September, 2017 Book List

Another month, another book list. So many books, so little time. However having too many books on our book list is never a bad thing, sort of like a buffet can never have too many offerings. Amazon, this month, listed all the new fall books with publication dates, so some of the titles on the Amazon list are not yet available. Just a reminder that books make great gifts.

Aug. 11

A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

A Doll for the Throwing by Mary Jo Bang (book length sequence of prose poems)

The Girl with Kaleidoscope Eyes (A Stewart Hoag Mystery) by David Handler

Notes on a Foreign Country: An American Abroad in a Post-American World by Suzy Hansen

Ghost of the Innocent Man: A True Story of Trial and Redemption by Benjamin Rachlin

The House of Government: A Saga of Russian Revolution by Yuri Slezkine

Fog by Miguel de Unamuno, trans. from the Spanish by Elena Barcia

Aug 18th

Stay With Me: A Novel by Ayobami Adebayo

Shooting Ghosts: A US Marine, a Combat Photographer, and their Journey Back from War by Thomas J. Brennan and Finbarr O’Reilly (NF)

Eastman Was Here: A Novel by Alex Gilvary

Autumn by Karl Ove Knausgaard (1st of a projected quartet of autobiographical volumes) (NF) *

Midwinter Break by Bernard MacLaverty

Unraveling Oliver by Liz Nugent

The Room of White Fire: A Novel by T. Jefferson Parker

Aug. 25

The New Voices of Fantasy, edited by Peter S Beagle (NF)

Snap Judgement: a Sam Brinkman Legal Thriller by Marcia Clark

The Burning Girl: A Novel by Claire Messud

Sundays in August by Patrick Modiano, trans. from the French by Damion Searls

The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, edited by Jeronimo Pizzero, trans. from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa

The Big Indie Books of Fall 2017

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Reservoir 13 by Jon McGregor

The Stone Building and Other Places by Asli Erdogan

The People are Going to Rise Like the Waters Upon Your Shore: A Story of American Rage by Jared Yates Sexton (NF)*

Mean by Myriam Grerba

A Year in the Wilderness: Bearing Witness in the Boundary Waters by Amy and Dave Freeman (NF)

The Dawn of Detroit: A Chronicle of Slavery and Freedom in the City of the Straits by Tiya Miles

Gilded Suffragist by Johanna Neuman (NF)

Democracy and its Crisis by A.C. Grayling (NF) *

Marita: The Spy Who loved Castro by Marita Lorenz (NF)

Solar Bones: A Novel by Mike McCormack

The Glass Eye by Jeannie Vanasco

They Can’t Kill us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib (Essays)

A History of the World in Seven Cheap Things: A Guide to Capitalism, Nature, and the Future of the Planet by Raj Patel and Jason W. Moore (NF)

Sept. 1

Jumping at Shadows: The Triumph of Fear and the End of the American Dream by Sasha Abramsky (NF)*

Border: A Journey to the Edge of Europe by Kapka Kassabova (NF)

A Legacy of Spies by John Le Carré (George Smiley)

The World of Tomorrow: A Novel by Brendan Mathews

Black Rock White City by A.S. Patric

The Golden House by Salmon Rushdie *

Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith

Gorbachev: His Life and Times by William Taubman

Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

Sept. 8th

Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar

The Devouring: A Billy Boyle World War II Mystery by James R. Benn

Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime by Ben Blum

The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve by Stephen Greenblatt

Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss

The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye by David Lagercrantz

Warcross by Marie Lu

Voice in the Dark by Ulli Lust and Marcel Beyer, trans. from the German by Nika Knight

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Katalin Street by Magda Szabó, trans. from the Hungarian by Len Rix

 

Aug. 11

Mrs. Fletcher by Tom Perrotta

The Chalk Artist by Allegra Goodman

Moving Days by Joshua Cohen

Broken River by Robert Lennon

South Pole Station by Ashley Shelby

Spoonbenders by Daryl Gregory

Tornado Weather by Deborah E. Kennedy

A House Among the Trees by Julia Grass

Bed-Stuy Is Burning by Brian Platzer

Crime Fiction

The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham

Fierce Kingdom by Gin Philips

Arrowood by Mick Finlay

Need You Dead by Peter James

Nonfiction

Chief Engineer by Erica Wagner

Devil’s Bargain by Joshua Green *

The World Broke in Two by Bill Goldstein

Aug. 18th

Nonfiction

Freud by Frederick Crews

The House of Government by Yuri Slezkine

The Unwomanly Face of War by Svetlana Alexievich

The Once and Future Liberal by Mark Lilla

To Siri with Love by Judith Newman

Life in Code by Ellen Ullman

Surfing with Sartre: Does Riding a Wave Help Solve Existential Mysteries? by Aaron James

Democracy in Chains by Nancy MacLean (econ. James McGill Buchanan)

Wrestling with His Angel by Sidney Blumenthal (2nd volume of Lincoln biography)

North Korea

Under the Loving Care of the Fatherly Leader: North Korea and the Kim Dynasty by Bradley Martin

The Aquariums of Pyongyang by Kang Chol-hwan and Pierre Rigoulot

Nuclear North Korea: A Debate on Engagement Strategies by Victor Cha and David Kang

Fiction

The Destroyers by Christopher Bollen

The Seventh Function of Language by Laurent Binet

The Little French Bistro by Nina George

A French Wedding by Hannah Tunnicliffe

Impossible Views of the World by Lucy Ives

Crime Fiction

Y is for Yesterday by Sue Grafton

The Driver by Hart Hanson

The Rat Catcher’s Olympics by Colin Cotterill

Crime Scene by Jonathan Kellerman and his son Jason Kellerman

Aug. 25th

A Boy in Winter by Rachel Seiffert

The Locals by Jonathan Dee

See What I Have Done by Sarah Schmidt

Motherest by Kristen Iskendrian

Nonfiction

Wild Things by Bruce Handy

Into the Grey Zone by Adrian Owen

No Apparent Distress by Rachel Pearson

Chester B. Himes by Lawrence P. Jackson

You Can Do Anything by George Anders

A Practical Education by Randall Stross

Campus Confidential by Jacques Berlinerblau

The New Education by Cathy N. Davidson

Little Soldiers by Lenora Chu

Sept. 1

Nonfiction

Notes on a Foreign Country by Suzy Hansen

Sargent’s Women: Four Lives Behind the Canvas by Donna M. Lucey

‘Good Booty’: The Sexual Power of Music by Ann Powers

‘Warner Bros’: A History of the Studio and the Family by David Thomson’s

“I’ll Have What She’s Having” by Erin Carlson (Nora Ephron)

Life and Adventures of Jack Engle: An Autobiography by Walt Whitman

Manly Health and Training: To Teach the Science of a Sound Mind and a Beautiful Body by Walt Whitman

Fiction

The Woman Who Had Two Navels by Nick Joaquin

Tales of the Tropical Gothic by Nick Joaquin

Crime Novels

Glass Houses by Louise Penny

Séance Infernale by Jonathan Skariton

The Doll Funeral by Kate Hamer

Killer Harvest by Paul Cleave

When the English Fall by David Williams

Grace by Paul Lynch

Out in the Open by Jesus Carrasco

Made for Love by Alissa Nutting

Pages for You by Sylvia Browning

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward

Final Demand by Deborah Moggach

My Sister’s Bones by Nuala Ellwood

You’ll Never Know Dear by Hallie Ephron

The Lying Game by Ruth Ware

Sept. 8th

Nonfiction

Fantasyland by Kurt Andersen

Collecting the World by James Delbourgo

Black Detroit by Herb Boyd

Gorbachev by William Taubman

Enraged by Emily Katz Anhalt

A Disappearance in Damascus by Deborah Campbell

Beautiful Bodies by Kimberly Rae Miller

David Litt, an Obama Speech-writer Who Wants No Credit by David Litt

Fiction

The Burning Girl by Claire Messud

The Body in the Clouds by Ashley Hayes

The Party by Elizabeth Day

A Kind of Freedom by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

Careers for Women by Joanna Scott

The Lighthouse by Alison Moore

Dirt Road by James Kelman

The Followers by Rebecca Wait

Best Fall Books (Some of these books can only be pre-ordered. They are not yet available from the publisher.)

A Legacy of Spies: A Novel by John Le Carré

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green

Hardcore Twenty Four by Janet Evanovich

A Column of Fire by Ken Follett

The Rooster Bar by John Grisham

Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan

We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Unqualified by Chris Pratt

My Absolute Darling: A Novel by Gabriel Tallent

Origin by Dan Brown

The Girls Who Takes an Eye for an Eye: A Lisbeth Salander Novel by David Lagercrantz

To Be Where You Are (A Mitford Novel) by Jan Karon

Two Kinds of Truth (A Harry Bosch Novel) by Michael Connelly

The Sun and Her Powers by Rupi Kaur

The Midnight Line: A Jack Reacher Novel by Lee Child

Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

End Game (Will Robie Series) by David Baldacci

Don’t Let Go by Harlan Coben

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan

Artemis: A Novel by Andy Weir

Sourdough: A Novel by Robin Sloan

The Rules of Magic: A Novel by Alice Hoffman

Winter Solstice by Elin Hilderbrand

It Devours: A Welcome to Night Vale Novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

What the Hell Did I Just Read: A Novel of Cosmic Horror (John Dies at the End) by David Wong

Without Merit: A Novel by Colleen Hoover

Paris in the Present Tense: A Novel by Mark Helprin

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Future Home of the Living God: A Novel by Louise Erdrich

The Twelve Mile Straight: A Novel by Eleanor Henderson

Autonomous: A Novel by Annalee Newitz

The Quantum Spy: A Thriller by David Ignatius

Snap Judgment by Marcia Clark

Fever by Deon Meyer and K.L. Seefers

Five Carat Soul by James Mc Bride

Hanna Who Fell From the Sky: A Novel by Christopher Meades

Nonfiction

What Happened by Hillary Rodham Clinton

Braving the Wilderness by Brene Brown

The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance by Tom Brady

Unbelievable: My Front-Row Seat to the Craziest Campaign in American History by Katy Tur

Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team by Simon Sinek and David Mead

Draft No. 4: On the Writing Process by John McPhee

Coming to My Senses: The Making of a Counterculture Cook by Alice Watersi

Grant by Ron Chernow

It Takes Two: Our Story by Jonathan Scott and Drew Scott

Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson

Unstoppable: My Life So Far by Maria Sharpova

Sisters First: Stories from Our Wild and Wonderful Life by Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush

Waiting for the Punch: Words to Live By from WTF Podcast

Endurance: A Year in Space, A Lifetime of Discovery by Scott Kelly

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty

Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake by Kathryn Miles

David Bowie: A Life by Dylan Jones

Hit Refresh: The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone by Satya Nadella and Greg Shaw

My Taking of K-129: How the CIA Used Howard Hughes to Steal a Russian Sub in the Most Daring Covert Operation in History by Josh Dean

T is for Transformation: Unleash the 7 Superpowers to Help You Dig Deeper, Feel Stronger, and Live Your Best Life by Shaun T

Going into Town: A Love Letter to New York by Roz Chast*

Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything by Kelly Weinersmith and Zack Weinersmith*

Franklin D. Roosevelt: A Political Life by Robert Dallek

Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone by Richard Lloyd Parry

What Unites Us: Reflections on Patriotism by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner

Cuz: The Life and Times of Michael A by Danielle S. Allen

Where the Past Begins: A Writer’s Memoir by Amy Tan

Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime by Ben Blum

Blood Lines: The True Story of a Drug Cartel, the FBI, and the Battle for a Horse-Racing Dynasty by Melissa del Bosque

WTF?: What’s the Future and Why It’s Up to Us

The River of Consciousness by Oliver Sacks

Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell by David Yaffe

Chuck D Presents This Day in Rap and Hip Hop History by  Chuck D and foreword by Shepard Fairey

The Bloody Patriots: How I Took Down an Anti-government Militia with Beer, Bounty Hunting and Badassery by Bill Fulton and Jeanne Devon

The Art of Stopping Time: Practical Mindfulness for Busy People by Pedram Shojai

We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations that Matter by Celeste Headlee

Lou Reed: A Life by Anthony DeCurtis

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II by Liza Mundy

Member of My Family: My Story of Charles Manson, Life Inside His Cult, and the Darkness that Ended the Sixties by Dianne Lake and Deborah Herman

Inside Camp David: The Private World of the Presidential Retreat by Michael Giorgione

Real American: A Memoir by Julie Lythcott-Haims

The Ghosts of Langley: Into the CIA’s Heart of Darkness by John Prados

A Moonless, Starless Sky: Ordinary Women and Men Fighting Extremism in Africa by Alexis Okeowo

A World of Three Zeros: The New Economics of Zero Poverty, Zero Unemployment, and Zero Net Carbon Emissions by Muhammed Yunus

The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown

Supernormal: The Untold Story of Adversity and Resilience by Meg Jay

The Mayflower: The Families, the Voyage, and the Founding of America by Rebecca Fraser

American Radical: Inside the World of an Undercover Muslim FBI Agent by Tamer Elnoury with Kevin Maurer

The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google by Scott Galloway

Visit my site: http://notabene718.com

to see my published books and my book reviews

 

A Cult of Ignorance

Why does it matter whether this administration believes in climate change or not you might ask? As long as they earmark funds to clean up and rebuild after each disaster we should still be fine, right? Ninety-seven percent of scientists do not think so. I do not think so. Ignorance is never an answer. It is ignorant to pretend that there is no trend to more severe weather and other disastrous events. It is ignorant to pretend that the ice caps are not melting, and even if they are it has little to do with us. It is ignorant to put economic greed above human survival.

It is ignorant to overturn laws that could have helped hold climate change at bay. Even if you don’t believe that humans can effect nature (which is also ignorant) it is foolish not to try. Americans used to love a challenge, a good problem to be solved. If the fossil fuel age is about to end you would think that we would be all gung ho to come up with new options.

America did not used to be a country whose answer to a possible scientific inevitability would be to simply double down on the old technologies suspected of causing those new and sobering truths. If we could usher in an Industrial Age as muscular and productive as what gave America its brash confidence in the last two centuries, we should be just as excited and energetic about creating a new “Age” in the 21st century which will be cleaner and kinder to our planet and our health, a new tech that does not rely on the remains of the Age of Dinosaurs.

I just spent my week the same way many of you probably did, watching that slow and blowsy storm called Irma from the time she left the western coastal waters of Africa. I watched as Irma assaulted the islands of the Caribbean leaving destruction in her wake. I watched the tragic loss of the entire island of Barbuda which may not be rebuilt for some time. Some of the ritziest names in island destinations were in the cross hairs and did not escape unscathed. Irma lingered so long over Cuba I was afraid there would be massive devastation of another nation with few resources for restoration.

But I have family and friends in Florida and as the weather news became direr with each passing day my anxieties were focused with people rather than places. My friends in Miami left first. They were in the bull’s eye for a while. Miami streets experience minor flooding in a rainstorm. I was relieved. They left Florida altogether with the cat and the dog. Then one of my sisters told us that she and her husband had gone with other relatives to stay with her son and daughter-in-law. My sister and her husband recently down-sized to a manufactured home. Her son lives in a home that is rated to last through a Category 4.

So that left us with one couple sheltering in place in, of all places, Cape Coral, the new target of Irma’s ferocious energies. The prediction for a 10-15 foot storm surge in Cape Carol gave me nightmares. These guys live on a canal right near the Gulf of Mexico. On the news broadcasters spoke with contempt for people who stayed when they should have evacuated. But these family members went to two shelters and were turned away at both. The mayor of Cape Coral made it sound like the town’s preparations were extensive but no one seemed to realize that people were being turned away from shelters. My family members had just arrived home from a summer up north and landed right in the path of Irma. It has been a very tense week, only resolved when the surge threat was lowered to 5 ft. There is a sea wall that rises to 4’ and then, still, an upward incline to the house.

Do I know for sure if the phenomenon we call climate change is responsible for that storm? I do not. Do I know that the sea levels are rising and the ice caps are melting? I do. Do I see how people love to live near beaches and coast lines? I feel this pull myself. Do I see how populated the hurricane-prone state of Florida has become, with people still arriving every day, many of them aging and experiencing the challenges that come with aging? Florida is a state that has risen on fairly shaky ground, as I understand it, and it took drastic engineering feats to turn it into the goddess of the good life that it is today.

We just saw 7 million people all try to evacuate a state with one or two main highways. It’s lucky they started early and I bet it was frustrating to sit in those long lines of traffic crawling along. Can we count on evacuating almost an entire state if monster storms become the norm? Doesn’t it make more sense to try some of the solutions scientists offer? Perhaps it is not too late to at least stabilize earth’s environmental situation.

Conservatives, for reasons I cannot understand, are arguing against knowledge, against experimentation, against reasoned thought and innovation. I have no problems with training programs for people who are interested. I think we need people trained to do all kinds of things. I do have a problem with an ideology that feels that the answer to our inner cities is more police, more prison, rather than more computers, more broadband. Some of these people went to Harvard for heaven’s sake; some to the best college in America, Wharton, as we are told. College is still good for people. It is good for brains. It helps them tick and think. Einstein didn’t go to a training program. He went to a university.

Conservatives don’t like colleges because they believe they turn out rubber stamp liberals. I think colleges don’t like Conservatives because they are backward thinkers who have nothing valuable to offer students, although once they would have been examples of civility and the importance of having moral standards. The war on our college campuses was not caused by liberals. Liberals are defending our centers of learning against a reactionary wave, a huge reactionary wave.

We seem to be headed towards an age of ignorance, caught in a cult of ignorance that will rob America of a leading role in a world that will have to streamline and find efficient ways to deal with our exploding populations, and that will have to look outward to space for new planets to colonize, or face desperate wars and diseases and disasters to trim our numbers back to levels that make human life feasible on this planet. Ignorance is our enemy. We don’t have time to while away a century or two in the new Dark Ages.

Budget 2: Overviews of Trump/House Budgets

Trump’s Budget and the House (or Ryan) Budget have only minor differences. In terms of defense spending both budgets add money that has to be taken away from other parts of the budget. These budgets generally break down into Mandatory Spending, Defense Spending, Defense Discretionary Spending, and Non-Defense Discretionary Spending (NDD).

Mandatory spending includes Medicare and Social Security. Trump’s budget does not make cuts to these programs as he promised in his campaign. The House budget does make cuts to mandatory spending.

Both budgets increase military spending by quite a lot. And, as we saw in my article Budget 1, both budgets cut non-defense discretionary spending by cutting programs as listed in my post. Trump’s budget makes more cuts in NDD spending than the House budget makes.

Both of these budgets relied on repealing and replacing the ACA and putting the dollars saved back in the budget. This loss will have a rather large effect on the budget, especially if it must be deficit neutral. Trump’s budget does not rely on being deficit neutral but this condition is something the House budget is supposed to comply with.

Amounts vary between the two budgets but the types of cuts and additions are very similar. There should not be much disagreement between the WH and the House, but there are a few areas of contention.

I am hoping that the cuts in mandatory spending will go away because that is one area of disagreement. Will we go with the NDD cuts generated by Trump or by Ryan or will the opposition save many of these agencies and programs? Will the number of cuts, if any, be closer to the Ryan cuts or to the Trump cuts? How will either budget find a way to be deficit neutral without the repeal and replacement of the ACA? The fact that the health care plan still stands puts a big hole in these budget plans and that makes it harder to produce a balanced budget in 2027, which both budgets claim that they can accomplish.

The “wall” is included in Trump’s budget under defense and national security spending. It is not included in the House budget, but that probably will not fly. Although, if Florida is devastated in similar ways to Houston the entire budget may have to be reworked by both the WH and the House.

Moderate Republicans, well, relatively moderate Republicans, probably will like both of these budgets but the Freedom Caucus is unlikely to like either. They would cut everything except possibly defense spending.

Both of these budgets rely on  growth rates for GDP which economists say are too optimistic. This means that they are unlikely to be deficit neutral or to produce a balanced budget in ten years.

It would have been nice if the Dems had produced a “model” budget so that people could compare the two parties, but perhaps that is just not done when your party is out of power. I suppose we could consider the current budget (2017) to be a Democrat budget. We have made it through years without a new budget before and we could do it again. I really don’t want America’s budget to be reconfigured according to the Republican ideology, but time is not on my side.

President Trump’s 2018 Budget from an article published on May 24, 2017

*3.6 trillion in deficit reduction

*1.5 trillion from unspecified discretionary cuts

*2.8 trillion cuts to mandatory items (not Medicare or SS)

*   1 trillion from repeal of ACA

*300 billion in interest savings

*reduce debt from 77% of GDP or 14.8 trillion today to 60% or 18.6 trillion by 2027 (OMB)

*budget balanced by 2027 from deficit of 3.1% of GDP or 603 billion in 2017

*budget projected spending shrinks from 21.2% of GDP or 4.1 trillion today to 18.4% of GDP or 5.7 trillion by 2027 (OMB)

(CBO objects – this is overly optimistic – debt would likely remain stable and deficits remain 2% of GDP)

Proposals in Trump’s Budget

*3.6 trillion net spending reduction and reforms

*4.5 trillion less in spending

*   1 trillion less in revenue

*697 billion to promote new initiatives

-defense discretionary spending

-veteran’s health program

-paid family leave

-infrastructure investment

*200 billion placeholder infrastructure grants to state and local governments (hopes to leverage 1 trillion of total public/private investment)

*Reduce non-defense discretionary spending (NDD) by 10% (- 555 billion) reduced by 54 billion in 2018 and do this 10 times over ten years (cuts programs listed in my article Budget 1

*Apply “2 penny plan” (2 pennies in cuts for every 1 penny spent) to future NDD spending

*850 billion future unspecified cuts

*Reform Healthcare (- 903 billion)

*Restructure Safety Net Program (-272 billion

*reduce SNAP by 193 billion

*reduce Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) (welfare) grants by 10%

*eliminate Social Security Block Grants – 38 billion saved

*40 billion saved by requiring Social Security Number for Child Tax Credit or EITC

*eliminating supplemental benefits for federal employees retired before age 62

*increase number of salary years used to calculate retirement benefits

*increase federal employee retirement contribution

*Other savings

*farm subsidies

*enacting financial regulation reform

*Restructuring Consumer Finance Protection Bureau

*Postal reform

*Higher Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation premiums and other

*Comprehensive Tax Reform see articles on Trump’s tax plan (no amount given

*Economic growth and War Draw-down saves 2.7 trillion

*All assuming a (very rosy) 3% GDP growth per year by 2020

 

Sources

https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/23/us/politics/document-Donald-Trump-2018-Budget.html?mcubz=0

http://www.crfb.org/papers/president-trumps-full-fy-2018-budget

 

 

House Budget “Building a Better America”, Chairman Diane Black’s Summary

*Balance Budget – balance within 10 years by:

*cutting spending

*reforming government

*grow the economy

*projects a $9 billion surplus in 2027 with 6.5 trillion in deficit reduction

*2018 Overall Budget

*$1,132 trillion in discretionary spending

* $621.5 trillion in defense discretionary spending

* $511 billion non-defense discretionary spending

*Promote Job Creation

*tax reform” (reconciliation instructions?)

*lower rates

*simplify code

*incentivize employers to hire and grow (major reform of regulations that hold back job creation and innovation

*Secure National Defense

*funding to secure the border and protect the homeland

*increase account at Department of Veteran’s Affairs

*Strengthening Health Care

*AHCA – American Health Care Act (did not pass)

*saves and strengthens Medicare with a premium support system that gives seniors more control (?)

*Reforms Medicaid by giving states the power to tailor Medicaid programs (block grants, vouchers?)

*Cutting spending and reforming government which will cut $203 billion through savings and reform (reconciliation instructions) (?)

*Reduce government-wide improper payments (?) by $700 billion

*Calls on 11 committees to cut $203 billion altogether over 10 years (NDD as per Budget 1)

*Assumes optimistic economic growth rate

* WH assumed 3% growth

*House budget assumes 2.6% growth

*”economists say that both of these growth rates are optimistic”

*Slashed safety net programs – imposes work requirements for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (welfare) and SNAP (food stamps)

*Proposes deficit neutral tax changes – Trump’s budget does not do this

*House GOP budget cuts Medicare and Social Security (“likely to receive pushback from Republicans wary of cutting into popular entitlement programs”)

NPR Article says this about House Budget

*Cuts $54 trillion over 10 years

*$4 trillion in cuts to mandatory spending (Medicaid, Medicare)

*Ramps up defense spending

*”budgets are more statements of priority than exact plans

*”Budget could allow Republicans to pass tax overhaul by reconciliation” (only 51 votes instead of 60)

*Ramp up defense spending by $929 billion

*Cut NDD spending by 1.3 trillion (WH and House similar in this regard)

Sources

https://budget.house.gov/budgets/fiscal-year-2016-budget/summary-key-facts/

http://www.npr.org/2017/07/19/537959833/heres-whats-in-the-house-republican-budget-and-why-it-matters

http://www.politico.com/story/2017/05/14/republicans-cuts-programs-food-stamps-welfare-veterans-238314

https://www.cnbc.com/2017/07/18/house-budget-committee-proposes-boosting-defense-spending-reshaping-welfare-programs.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/07/house-gop-budget-plan-puts-medicare-and-social-security-on-the-line/533991/

 

Pay Your Dues: Reprise from Labor Day 2015

 

This is how the map looks on Labor Day 2017 (only one addition)

I first published this article in my blog on Labor Day in 2015. Not only is this information still relevant but the need to fight for worker’s rights is more important than ever. The words Republicans use for this particular plan to dismantle unions sound so innocent. They ask unions to conform to “right to work” laws which prey on the angers of workers who like the benefits unions provide but who don’t want to pay dues or belong to a union. In some states you must pay into the union whether you are a member or not. This may sound un-American but unions could not fight for workers with out having powers equal to the moneyed people they are fighting against. Workers have been led to believe by Republican “talk” that unions are to blame for causing manufacturers to leave the United States for other markets. But once manufacturers became aware of the huge untapped markets in the “third world” and the cheap and plentiful laborers, it was inevitable that we would see the “Great Factory Migration.

Here is what I said in 2015:

It is another Labor Day, a day when we celebrate American workers. America is a country that believes in work. Hard work will pay off. Hard work will win you a better life. People who don’t work hard are lazy and un-American. Even Labor Unions are suspect to some, as we know. They are organizations that target employers and try to milk concessions from them that slurp up profits and kill businesses. They are sops for lazy workers who can’t suck it up and do their jobs. They are the mommy that kisses boo boos and tucks possible sources of worker injuries away, ‘nickel and dime-ing’ employers until they have to keep building new bookcases to house the books of regulations and hire new lawyers to protect the wealth of business owners. Many say that Unions drove business out of America by making it too expensive to do business here. It is the fault of the Unions, they say, that Americans now languish in sloth, making impossible demands on the Federal Government and still managing to reduce the profits of serious men of business (who have obviously earned their rich and luxurious lifestyles).

We, the workers of America and the former workers of America, recognize that this is a ridiculously one-sided view of Unions and/or the American worker. The very reason Unions exist is to protect workers from employers whose only interest is their bottom line (which, most likely, is not all employers). We learned about corporate greed the hard way and if we keep an eye on Southeast Asia and on China and other newly industrialized nations we see that they are learning those tough lessons that we learned decades ago. Workers must have a way to protect themselves from businessmen who practice a ruthless form of Capitalism. These new workers are in a far worse state than American workers were. There was pushback against unionizing; it was sometimes a bloody and brutal war, but we lived in a Democratic nation where people who believed in the ideals of the American nation offered support to unionizing and a counterpoint to stubborn business owners. How difficult will it be for people living in dictatorships to ever do anything to protect workers?

People are trying to bust our unions in these divisive days when our economy looks somewhat bleak. They are having some success by using ‘right to work’ laws which say that unions cannot charge dues to non-members. It seems logical that someone who is not a union member should not have to pay a fee to the union, but it robs the union of the power to bargain, and when a union bargains with an employer and succeeds the benefits accrue for all workers, not only union workers. We also have seen how employers can use non-Union employees against Union employees.  ‘Right to Work’ laws only ‘seem’ to benefit workers. The laws are a tool of the owner class used to break up unions.

There is another aspect of Union busting which should concern us. Union busting is being used by Republicans and their wealthy corporate donors to suppress the vote and to rob Democrats of the very powerful support they have received from Labor Unions. With our factories gone we may not need our Unions right now as desperately as we once did, but we should not let them be disemboweled by Big Business and their minions in Congress. Whatever your connection to your union, continue to pay your union dues if you can. We at least need our unions to offset the huge injections of cash into elections by the donor class. We need unions to insure that American workers still have a say in elections.

Here are more of my Labor Day articles:

A Blue Labor Day

Labor Day, 2013: Reflections on American Workers

Labor

 

 

 

Hurricane Harvey and Other Traumas

Rescue boats fill a flooded street at flood victims are evacuated as floodwaters from Tropical Storm Harvey rise Monday, Aug. 28, 2017, in Houston. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

There are plenty of lessons to be learned in the news every day and this week we are learning some doozies. Hurricane Harvey came to Houston. Now Houston is full of water. All day long there is footage of people wading through water, riding through water on an astonishing array of water craft, being airlifted by helicopter – and soggy pets, mostly dogs, being rescued and displaying such stoic trust about it. We have no idea of how many people and pets have not been rescued. Hopefully that number is really low.

It is gratifying to see the response of the people of Houston as they just pitch in with no overarching direction and do what needs to be done. Without these spontaneous acts of courage, caring, and disregard for personal comfort a great tragedy would have brought us grievous news, instead of the uplifting news we are seeing play out on the media.

But what if the people in the area did not own the kinds of tools necessary to save people in a disaster? Would the government have been able to handle the rescues in Houston? Would they be able to rescue you in your hometown if there were an emergency? Perhaps the National Guard could have responded with resources for Houston and performed the same rescues that neighbors have taken on. Would the response have been as timely? Would this event have looked more like Katrina?

We also know that housing people in giant shelters like convention centers does meet the immediate needs of people who have lost everything and have nowhere to go. And we see the shelters in Houston have learned from the fiasco at the Superdome in New Orleans. But will those lessons be enough when those shelters contain twice as many people as agencies planned for? Logistics is key but this storm has flooded a very wide area. Are there good supply lines? Is there a steady supply of food and water? How quickly can people be moved out of these less than ideal situations? Would you want to be sheltered in a convention center or sports arena?

I am proud of the way Americans cooperate in times of strife. Watching the news each day from Houston is just as uplifting as it is sad because of the activities of rescuers and of the Houston government and even the federal government. During this summer of 2017, 1000+ people died in flooding in Southeast Asia my newsfeed tells me. Perhaps there are not as many people who own their own boats as we have in America, perhaps the flooding happened too quickly, and, of course, the geography and infrastructure is very different.

Look at what happened at the Grenfell high rise in England. There is no way any heroics on the part of individual citizens could have helped in this case. This event was so fast and so devastating that the government was relatively helpless. But would you like to be treated the way the surviving residents were treated after they made it through that trauma. The government seemed rude and cold-hearted. Perhaps that was their only option, I don’t know, but I wonder how those residents have adjusted to the enforced changes in their lives.

I guess I am feeling that the government and even our neighbors may not be able to save us every time if weather events are getting more and more severe, and if crowded conditions are likely to generate more tragic events like Grenfell (yes, there was an architectural issue, but there may be many hidden weaknesses in our structures that we cannot know about until a failure occurs). I know that there are people who cannot evacuate their homes because they have no emergency funds for a hotel and no family to take them in. Perhaps centers could be designated before an event, especially a coastal event, to give people a place to evacuate to. What if you lived in an area where neighbors did not own the equipment necessary to make citizen rescues?

I guess I am thinking about this because some of us think we live in fairly safe areas, away from the zones where more extreme weather events occur. We don’t live on coastlines. We don’t live in high rises. We rarely have tornadoes. But perhaps no area is really safe. Storms happen and we live in areas that used to be different biomes in earlier times and could perhaps revert.

Our cities have nowhere to go but up but it doesn’t look like there is any good way to rescue people from the highest floors in a fire. That means that you had better hope the architect and the builder were skilled and did not cut corners.

Is there any way we can preplan for all possible permutations? If these large scale emergencies happen too frequently will we totally run out of resources to offer even the amenities we offer right now? What good will a survivalist plan do if you are unable to stay near your supplies? It looks like people need to evacuate when told to and do it right away even if it seems difficult. We need to stop feeling upset if we evacuate and it turns out to be not necessary. Maybe we need evacuation insurance.

We are watching, we are concerned, and we are donating whatever we can to help. I hope all turns out well for all the survivors of Harvey and I also hope this makes us begin to have some conversations to generate useful ideas for citizens who find themselves in situations like this.

Budget 1 – Ryan Budget Cuts/Trump Budget Cuts

Budget 1 – “Down in the weeds”

Ryan Budget Cuts

 

Paul Ryan’s proposed budget cuts according to a right wing blogger Evangelist Greg at Breakfast Bible Bytes https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/paul-ryan-proposed-budget-cuts-greg-deans/ (This is an odd source but it matches other sources but is a bit more complete.)

(*Asterisk = also on Trump’s list of cuts)

Corporation for Public Broadcasting Subsidy – $445 million/yr.

Save America’s Treasure Program – $25 million/yr. *

International Fund for Ireland – $17 m/yr.

Legal Services Corporation – $420 m/yr. *

National Endowment for the Arts – $167.5 m/yr.*

National Endowment for the Humanities – $167.5 m/yr. *

Hope VI Program – $250 m/yr.

Amtrak Subsidies – $1.565 b/yr.

U.S. Trade Development Agency – $55 m/yr. *

Woodrow Wilson Center Subsidy – $20 m/yr.*

John C. Stennis Center Subsidy – 430,000 per year

Community Development Fund – $4.5 b/yr.

Heritage Area Grants and Statutory Aid – $24 m/yr. *

Essential Air Service – $150 m/yr.

Technology Innovation Program – $70 m/yr.

Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program – $125 m/yr.*

Department of Energy Grants to States for Weatherization – $530 m/yr.

Beach Replenishment – $95 m/yr.

New Starts Transit – $2b/yr.

Exchange Programs for Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Their Historical Trading Partners in Massachusetts – $9 m/yr.

Intercity and High Speed Rail Grants – $2.5 b/yr.

Title X Family Planning – $318 m/yr.

Appalachian Regional Commission – $76 m/yr. *

Economic Development Administration – $75 m/yr.*

Applied Research At Department of Energy – $1.27 b/yr.

Freedom CAR and Fuel Partnership – $200 m/yr.

Energy Star Program – $52 m/yr. *

Economic Assistance to Egypt – $250 m/yr.

U.S. Agency for International Development – $1.39 b/yr.*

General Assistance to District of Columbia – $210 m/yr.

Subsidy for Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority – $150 m/yr.

Presidential Campaign Fund – $775 million over ten years

Federal Office Space Acquisition (no funding) – $864 m/yr.

Repeal of Davis- Bacon Act – more than $1 billion/yr.

USDA Sugar Program – $14 m/yr.

Subsidy to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) – $93 m/yr.

Ready to Learn TV Program – $27 savings

HUD Ph.D Program – no amount given

Deficit Reduction Check-off Act – no amount given

Other:

Eliminate duplicating education programs – HR 2274 in last Congress/Rep. McKeon- $1.3 b/yr. –eliminates 68 programs

Cut in half funding for congressional printing and binding – $47 m/yr.

Trim Federal vehicle budget by 20% – $600 m/yr.

Programs under the National and Community Services Act – $1.15 b/yr.

End prohibitions on competitive sourcing of government services

IRS Direct Deposit: Require the IRS to deposit fees for some services it offers (such as processing payment plans for taxpayers) to the Treasury, instead of allowing it to remain as part of its budget – $1.8 billion over ten years

Require collection of unpaid taxes by federal employees – $1 billion total savings

Prohibit taxpayer funded union activities by federal employees – $1.2 billion savings over ten years

Sell excess federal properties the government does not make use of – $15 billion total savings

Eliminate death gratuity for Members of Congress

Eliminate Mohair subsidies – $1 m/yr.

Eliminate taxpayer subsidies to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – $12.5 m/yr.

Eliminate Market Access Program – $200 m/yr.

Eliminate the Nation Organic Certification Cost-Share Program – $56.2 m/yr.

Eliminate fund for ACA administrative costs – $900 million total savings

Grand total in Savings – $2.5 Trillion over ten years (cuts 39 programs)

Trump’s Budget Cuts

Trump’s Proposed Budget Cuts according to Gregory Krieg and Will Mullery, CNN

http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/23/politics/trump-budget-cuts-programs/index.html

Independent Agencies:

Chemical Safety Board

Corporation for National and Community Service

Corporation for Public Broadcasting *

Institute of Museum and Library Services (MLS)

International Development Foundations *

Legal Services Corporation *

National Endowment for the Arts *

National Endowment for the Humanities *

Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation

Overseas Private Investment Corporation

Regional Commissions – provide funding only for orderly closure

The Appalachian Regional Commission *

The Delta Regional Authority

The Denali Commission

The Northern Border Regional Commission

US Institute of Peace – only budgeted for close-out costs

US Trade and Development Agency – again, only budgeted for close-out costs *

Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars *

Allocations to the Housing Trust Fund and Capital Magnet Fund

 

Department of Agriculture:

McGovern-Dole International Food for Education

Rural Business and Cooperative Service

Rural Water and Waste Disposal Program Account

Single Family Housing Direct Loans

The Rural Economic Development Program

 

Department of Commerce:

Economic Development Administration *

Manufacturing Extension Partnership *

Minority Business Development Agency

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Grants and Education

 

Department of Education:

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

21st Century Community Learning Centers

Comprehensive Literacy Development Grants

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants

Impact Aid Payments for Federal Property

International Education

Strengthening Institutions (except HBCUs and MSIs)

Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants

Supporting Effective Instruction State Grants

Teacher Quality Partnership

 

Department of Energy:

Advanced Research Projects Agency

Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program

Title 17 Innovative Technology Loan Guarantee Program

Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility Termination

 

Department of Health and Human Services:

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

Community Services Block Grant

Health Professions and Nursing Training Programs

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program

Department of Homeland Security:

Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program

Transportation Security Administration Law Enforcement Grants

Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Choice Neighborhoods

Community Development Block Grant

Home Investment Partnership Program

Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Opportunity Program Account

 

Department of the Interior:

Abandoned Mine Land Grants

Heritage Partnership Program *

National Wildlife Refuge Fund

 

Department of Justice:

State Criminal Alien Assistance Program

 

Department of Labor:

Migrant and Seasonal Worker Training

OSHA Training Grants

Senior Community Service Employment Program

Department of State and US Agency for International Development *

Development Assistance

Earmarked Appropriations for Non-profit Organizations

P.L. 480 Title II Food Aid

 

Departments of State/USAID and Treasury:

Green Climate Fund and Global Climate Change Initiative

 

Department of Transportation:

National Infrastructure Investments (TIGER)

 

Department of the Treasury

Global Agriculture and Food Security Program

 

Environmental Protection Agency:

Energy Star and Voluntary Climate Programs *

Geographic Programs

 

NASA

Five Earth Science Missions (RBI, PACE, OCO-3, DSCOVR, CLARREO Pathfinder

NASA Office of Education

 

Trump proposes cutting 74 government funded programs but the article did not say what the savings would be. In the article he tells why he believes each program can be cut. It seems clear that each department or agency had to offer up cuts and give the reasons for their choices.

This is a true example of “Be Careful What You Wish For”. I have always suggested that surgical cuts, carefully chosen and precisely targeted cuts, would be a good way to tame the United States Budget. Well I am like the person who made a wish that was not carefully thought out, a wish that backfired such as when King Midas wished that everything he touched would turn to gold but neglected to make an exception for living things. I neglected to consider how ideology would matter when it came to budget cuts, and I neglected to consider that it might not be done through a normal Congressional process of give and take, bargain and negotiate.

If you carefully take stock of the categories of cuts it is clear that a majority of cuts affect the poorest sectors of our America. Housing programs take a big hit although we have had several recent studies that suggest that housing is an area that needs our special attention if we want to solve the atrophy in our cities and communities. Education, especially education through television and programs that target kids who start out behind the curve because of social challenges, is cut. This is in line with the focus on growing private education options and cutting public education.

We know that Republicans, and obviously Trump also, want to drastically trim the activities of our government at the federal level and give programs back to the states and the local governments. This sounds like a states’ rights gift from the Republican Party and the people because according to these folks they are restoring the original intent of the authors of our Constitution. In a decade let’s check back with this and see how the people feel in each of the various states about losing these services and let’s see how many services each state is able to fund. States do not have equal economic resources and what we most likely will see will be huge disparities among the states in terms of programs offered to assist citizens with their needs.

As to some of the cuts to international programs this matches with the goals of an isolationist President. And it is not at all difficult to understand cuts to climate programs.

I contend that if the Democrats performed surgery on the Federal Budget the list of cuts would look completely different from this list. These cuts are not even significantly effective in terms of the amounts of savings they provide to we the people. But I believe that they will significantly affect the services that are available to people in need and that we will notice the absence of some of these programs, e.g. the ones for teacher training. I pictured cuts that would take away props for people and corporations that did not need them. That is not what these cuts represent.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snowflakes and Ghosts

When I spent a few dollars to have my post about white nationalism “boosted” out on Facebook to more readers, two right-wingers piled on to comment. One argued that the Antifa and the BLM are way worse than the KKK which is very weak and on its last legs. I did not let them get away with that.

I got called a snowflake. But I know the power of deep snow. One snowflake – flaky, cute and doomed. A huge lake effect snow event however is an entirely different story. Without good governance, without effective snow removal plans such a snowfall could be a killer. Even with good services in place people have died.

But I think I would rather be a snowflake than some kind of unfriendly ghost, clinging to a past that is unlikely to return. The GOP seems to be trying to create the ultimate “safe space” for right wingers. They plan to establish an empire that will keep white folks on top of the social heap. Well they had better get the masses busy having lots of white babies and they had better get them busy right away if they want the future of our planet to be white. Some folks are way ahead of us in terms of population.

Right wingers also want a booming economy, although who will trade with us once we have shut ourselves away in the prison that an isolationist America will become. I do not know. We import much more these days than we export.

The middle class had better not fool themselves. They will be fodder for the industrial machine, especially with the power of labor unions nullified. Women will no longer work. They will be baby factories and tasked with reanimating the nuclear family. It will have to be a rather giant nuclear family. Perhaps polygamy will no longer be illegal.

Let the globe rage around us. We will be an island of peace and industry, the GOP contends, (but not an island of freedom).

There are a fair number of problems with this plan. It is very likely that our enemies – and they will be legion – will simply lob bombs into our “sanctuary” until it is obliterated and then someone, as soon as this newly opened territory becomes livable again, will claim it, or there will be a bloody war to decide who gets our once beautiful land.

Oceans and walls will not keep people out forever.

Perhaps after the resources of America are all found and consumed in every way that the avaricious desire, our land will no longer be a temptation for any other nation. Instead of beauty extending from sea to shining sea, our nation will be a grim wasteland.

I don’t see where isolationism and nationalism lead to any great future. Don’t ask for what you want because you might get it.

When times get tough and these are already tough times, you need your neighbors more than you normally do. We will certainly need Europe and any other nations who want to keep some order to the changes that are boiling up around us. If you want white-skinned folks to remain relevant you must be in the mix, pitching in, making life better for all of the poor and the victimized and the desolate. Cooperation will serve us all in creating a stable world for humans to live in.

A society is not only an economy. We have lived in a free society. We know the sweet taste of it. We have tried to make equal opportunity possible. And yet, although we may have pioneered the idea of a social safety net to lift up the poorest among us (which lifts us all up), we have such strong opposition to giving people “something for nothing” that we are now have the most poorly distributed wealth of all societies on the globe.

And still wealthy Americans are not happy with what they have. They want us to put more money in their pockets. These people have even convinced average Americans through Svengali levels of propaganda to help the rich put more of our money in their pockets. “Don’t worry,” they say, “we’ll throw some coins your way.” “We’ll give you back one of those jobs that you will perform from cradle to grave and then we’ll yank away your pension and raise the retirement age just when you sense that freedom is near.”

So I guess we should risk being snowflakes every day because it seems better than being ghosts. I see nothing positive being offered to the American people by the GOP.

At least if we go with the globalists there is a chance that we will have robust human societies on this planet for centuries to come. It will take time and patience to get everyone up to speed. Christians, Muslims and all religions either learn to coexist peacefully or we will not have to worry about which society is number one. We will be immersed in war for decades to come. That is where we are trying not to go. And America under Trump, and the GOP are not helping.

My views of the future are not based on facts. They cannot be, because any prediction is a hypothetical. The GOP has predictions also but I don’t know if they are being honest with us or not, the propaganda campaign has been so omnipresent. I believe that isolationism will lead to atrophy and the fall of our grand experiment. What do you predict the current politics of each side would bring for America and for the world?

Evicted by Matthew Desmond – Book

Matthew Desmond’s book, Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City summarizes the lengthy and intimate researches of this sociologist with a MacArthur Genius Grant who has done his due diligence. His interest is in analyzing and discovering ways for breaking up stubborn, seemingly impossible-to-resolve problems that make life a misery for poor folks, especially black poor folks, and single mothers who are at the absolute bottom of the economic heap.

Mr. Desmond, a young man, still in college, moves into two different poor neighborhoods in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Since he is white he perhaps would have been distrusted in a minority neighborhood so he started out in a trailer park at the edge of the city with a more mixed-race population. This allowed him to make some connections, see some possible housing issues and eventually he was able to enter the predominately black North Side as a resident. He roomed with a black policeman called Officer Woo (a childhood nickname).

Obviously poverty and all of the things attendant on it, such as lack of education or training, being limited to low paying jobs, being hungry and having to spend too much time finding food for your family, not having an appropriate job wardrobe are all factors that contribute to keeping poor people from rising.

But Matthew Desmond decided to focus on the issue of housing and he exposes an angle on urban poverty that we have not yet explored in enough detail. He looks specifically at the part evictions play in squelching opportunity. He looks at a cycle that allows ever higher rents that do not decrease for low value properties. He looks at the gap between incomes and rents. He introduces us to the people he met who let him have access to their personal finances. I will issue a warning to you that they still haunt him even as he moves on to pursue his own life, and they will stay with you also.

Anecdotal studies are difficult because of the fact that the researcher is present and interacting. This can change the data in ways that are quite subtle, and perhaps not so subtle, sort of the way in which a rock bends the current in a stream. Desmond tried to keep his presence somewhat personal even as he also stuck to his position as a writer and a recorder of the lives of the people he met. He calls his report, his book, an ethnography, which seems accurate enough.

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey has a book club every summer. He chooses a title and everyone who signs up for the book club reads the same book. There is a discussion session at a certain date. This is the book for summer, 2017. You could probably still sign up.

I’m not going to summarize Desmond’s findings or his suggestions for fixing this seeming unresolvable dilemma of inner cities which seem to act like traps, robbing Americans of the comforts we expect life in America to offer. These observations are the entire content of his book. However, I will say, “Good choice, Cory Booker!”

True Goals of the Alt-Right

 

No one is afraid of liberals. No one has to steel their heart and check their guns when they hear that the liberals are taking to the streets. That is the main difference between the alt-right and the left. There is no alt-left; that is “fake news”, unless it refers to Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, who usually (never) set out to intimidate anyone unless you are afraid of their long term ideology.

The Neo-Nazi’s, White Supremacists, the KKK, and White Nationalists, on the other hand, are frightening. They are intimidating on purpose. They move in a pseudo-military cadence, they threaten people by carrying weapons, by scowling, by using symbolic body language like the Nazi salute. The left chants against inequality. The alt-right chants about exclusion, bloody exclusion (blood and soil) and threatens people whose relatives were either gassed or lived out their lives with numbers tattooed on their forearms. (Jew will not replace me.)

The alt-right has a problem. It’s a fairly big problem. Their problem is the conundrum about what to do about Americans of African Descent. They are dark-skinned people, pigmented people. They have been in America longer than the ancestors of most Americans. You cannot make America white by sending all the pigmented immigrants home. You will still be left with the people your ancestors kidnapped/bought and brought here against their will. This is the problem that rests at the bottom of losing the Civil War.

The White Nationalists don’t have a lot of choices if they really want to “preserve” an all-white nation. How will they deal with the African-American problem? These people cannot be accused of being here illegally. They cannot be sent home. They could, of course, be eliminated; killed and imprisoned. Sometimes it looks like there are already attempts to implement these strategies.

Americans of African Descent could be subjugated once again, “put them back in their rightful place”, but not without violent opposition.

Hasn’t this grossed you out yet? Doesn’t this function like a radioactive marker on a CT scan to highlight the cancerous growth that is the alt-right (I use this as a convenient term to represent all of the individual groups in the white nationalist movement?) These ideas do not animate liberals or

anyone o

 

n the left.

The white supremacists, etc. see one more choice. They could form an all-white separatist state within the current borders of the United States. The South could symbolically rise again. Would the rest of us let them go or would we fight a new Civil War to keep the American states united as one nation? Are we fighting that war right now; at least the ideological foreplay of that war?

Have you ever considered the possibility that the whole idea of the limits on federal power, of giving power to individual states, may be, at base, all about fighting for white supremacy from within the system rather than declaring an actual war? Well I have.

The right and the left are not the same at all in my mind. If they are in yours perhaps you favor the idea that we divide into two separate nations, one for white-skinned Americans and another for everyone who doesn’t think that skin-color makes any difference in the grand scheme of things.

Have you spit in a tube to have your DNA tested recently? It might be an eye-opener. You may find that you have already lost the war for white supremacy.

 

Is Violence Speech?

Well, here we are, back at our discussion of free speech. Free speech that is emotional, that expresses ideas we are invested in, whether they are socially acceptable ideas or anti-social ideas, may lead us to feel that words are not enough. After all, we still have some pretty primitive hard-wiring. Our physicality might be called into play. Thus free speech can lead to violence as it did this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia. Is free speech paired with violence the kind of speech we are guaranteed in the First Amendment?

Our forefathers were not very peaceful. They were revolutionaries. They backed their arguments with their fists, and guns. They fought duels. But our forefathers knew nothing of Henry David Thoreau’s essay on “Civil Disobedience”. They predated Gandhi. They did not know what Martin Luther King knew about peaceful resistance. Sometimes when innocents sacrifice their lives for a cause it is even more powerful than when combatants sacrifice theirs for a cause.

America has tried to move away from violence. Ideologically, we abhor it. We have advocated for peaceful coexistence around the globe. We know how violence destroys societies, or nations, or even civilizations. We have never truly put behind us the violence of brother against brother of our own Civil War. The recent demonstrations in Virginia which descended into violence were ostensibly about the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

The entire world was appalled by Hitler, at least they were once they realized that Hitler did not deserve anyone’s adulation. Once people realized he was insane and committing genocide on a scale and in ways most of us had never thought of, just about the whole world pitched in to destroy him.

So I say, despite our roots and our contentious forefathers, we are not a nation that believes free speech should have a violent physical dimension. We have wrapped ourselves in our “exceptionalism”. How is that looking now? Should haters have free speech? These folks don’t hate ideas, they hate people, people who are different from them. They honestly believe white people are superior, that Europeans rule by “divine right”. They were not around when other cultures and people had their moments on the world stage – Chinese dynasties, Byzantium, the Mongols and more, so they do not know that power has been owned by people who were not Europeans, not Westerners.

So because we, the “exceptionalists,” have not all yet learned how to handle diverse peoples, skin colors, or religions, these people, these neo-Nazis, these white supremacists, seem to think that punching shooting, running over everyone is free speech. However many of us believe that our planet is so small, so endangered, so overpopulated that we must at least try to forge common bonds.

Speech that comes with violence is not free speech – we know better here at the beginning of the 21st century. And we all have DNA made from the exact same chemical molecules even if they are assembled with infinite variety. The alt-right or the white supremacists, whatever they want to be called, should crawl back under the rocks that they came from if the only speech they want to be free with is hate speech. We must do better. We may be at the edge of apocalypse.