Mind Games

What I really hate about lies is what they assume about our minds. Republicans are playing mind games. They are trying to tell us they did the opposite of what they actually have done. They insist that we all have some kind of collective amnesia and we don’t recall how they voted or how they have treated many of their constituents. Trump insists that Democrats are responsible for things Republicans did or would like to do. We are the ones inciting violence, we are the ones paying immigrants to walk, 7,000 strong, to the border between Mexico and the US. Democrats are the ones who want to get rid of insurance that covers preexisting conditions and Medicare. Democrats are responsible for the deficit. Democrats are to blame for violent riots in California because of sanctuary cities. Wow, we are really terrible people. Except none of this is true. It is just people using Trumpian double speak to make us crazy.

Which anti-fact do we combat first? Which misdirection will hurt us the worst in the midterms? Will any of this psychobabble change any outcomes in the midterms? How many Americans believe this mumbo-jumbo? Why do I constantly feel like gnats are buzzing around my head? Isn’t it already too late to change anyone’s mind about their vote in the midterms, unless you have a bully pulpit as big as the one Trump has?

I know that there are records about this stuff, news stories, videos, interviews, panel discussions, but it has been made clear that records can be changed, edited, photoshopped, like those photos of Trump’s election crowds. This president uses mind games against his own citizens. Two more years of this sounds endless, six sounds impossible. When we look back on this 4 years or this 8 years, if we survive this Trump administration as the intact American Republic, I think that these years will seem like a big old black hole in space.

So I will reiterate one more time the reasons that we need to vote for Democrats besides the ones where we save our sanity and save Democracy at the same time. I found this meme on Facebook. It is not mine but it sums up policy differences between Democrats and Republicans in a very concise way. I tried to trace it back to where it originated because I suspect it was captured and pasted to Facebook, but I could not find the correct attribution.

Photo Credit: Odyssey from a Google Image Search

Sinclair Broadcasting Helps Trump in Midterms

I caught my local news on a channel owned by Sinclair Broadcasting the other night and the very thing I feared would happen is happening. Giving Trump/Trump supporters a voice on local news, allowing them to air national news that sounds fair and balanced but that skews towards Trump, and skews right, is particularly dangerous when we are in an election cycle. Local people who insist that Fox is the best source for political news are the targets of Sinclair. They are already primed to believe this stuff. They are unaware of who Sinclair Broadcasting is and of the ways they are interfering in local news broadcasts. They find the skewed news to be perfectly acceptable because they have already been brainwashed to agree with it.

7,000 refugees walking from Honduras to the border between Mexico and the US two weeks before the midterms offers plenty of video footage to instill fear and anger in middle-class Trump supporters. These Trumpers are a percentage of Americans who already suspect, and riled by Trump, are now convinced, that immigrants steal our jobs, use benefits paid for and intended for use by citizens only, and are violent criminals who endanger American lives.

What I saw on my local news, pushed out in a must-run story from Sinclair Broadcasting was a graphic video about the MS-13 gang, resplendent in gang tattoos, ready to commit mayhem in a neighborhood near us. Such obvious fear-mongering two weeks before an election that could change the majority in the House of Representatives from Republican to Democratic could very well motivate more Republicans to go to the polls to prevent that from happening. That would be very bad for America. We have no checks on this President. We need some. A House of Representatives that skews left could give us at least  minimal checks on an out-of-control President.

Local TV news used to try to give fairly balanced coverage of both candidates for a political office but Sinclair has put an end to that. This coverage does not look like it is even about the election but it is. It is wrong that Sinclair is allowed to own local stations when it is nothing but a one-sided political operative. It turns our news into propaganda. The wrongness of Sinclair is especially apparent during an election cycle. If we want news that is actual news we definitely need a blue wave. Trump is no fan of free speech unless the speech favors him.

Photo Credits: From Google Image Searches, Living Room Trends 2018, NPR

 

Election Woes

Confusing Voters

We are 18 days out from the 2018 midterm election with Democrats and Republicans locked in a desperate struggle to control the Legislative branch of our Federal government. Things start to get very confusing for voters right about now. The Democrats might be turning into Socialists. The Republicans are now claiming that they are the protectors of health care in America, although they voted at least 60 times to overturn the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). We are apparently thick as thieves with Saudi Arabia right now and may be inclined to ignore the assassination of journalists by other dictatorships or “illiberal democracies” if we have advantageous economic arrangements with these nations. Apparently sword dances are also very helpful in this regard. Voter suppression is rampant because Democrats encourage voter fraud (what?). Democrats are a violent mob paid to resist by a Jewish billionaire (George Soros). And thousands of immigrants are on the way to violate our southern border and create mayhem. If all of this is true I say how could 45 allow our nation to get in such bad shape?

Health Care

Ask yourself, who is likely to offer Americans the best health care for the least amount of money, the Democrats or the Republicans? Well, first there is the evidence available for all voters to see in the various health plans that have been offered during the Obama administration and the Trump administration. Obama’s plan was demonized by Republicans for allowing “death panels” to decide who lives and who die (which never came to pass), and was declared unconstitutional by courts that skew to the right because of the individual mandate (you cannot force Americans to buy something or pay a penalty for not buying it even if it would accomplish a larger goal of bringing down the cost of health care for everyone). The Republicans ripped all the teeth out of the ACA and backed the private health insurers (so unfair to billionaires, who are considered sacred even if they are making enormous profits from people’s pain, because they provide jobs and have generous lobbyists). Red states proved their bona fides to the party by refusing the Medicaid expansion, making their poorest citizens do without to keep a greedy party in power. And yet the ACA still worked pretty well and it has provided health care for millions of Americans who never had it.

We also saw what was on offer from Republicans in the Better Care plan which was in no way better than the ACA, and would cause millions to lose coverage. The “skinny repeal” was not their finest hour either. Republicans know insurance companies do not want to cover preexisting condition without being paid big bucks (and who will pay those big bucks, government or individuals). Since all Republicans really care about is the bottom line and backing corporations/businesses, they are trying to help out the insurance companies, not the American people. We have also been learning that almost anything can be classified as a preexisting condition. And yet I hear Republicans telling voters in commercial after commercial that it is Democrats who plan to take away coverage of preexisting conditions and, incidentally, also end Medicare.

Democrats Will End Medicare (what?)

Their claim is based on a cynical argument about linguistics, I guess. They argue that if everyone has “single-payer” health insurance then seniors will lose their Medicare and coverage for preexisting conditions will prove either skimpy or outrageously expensive. Of course if we call “single-payer” Medicare-for-all their argument falls apart. Republicans think that Americans will accept a “catastrophic coverage fund” that people contribute to separately from their health care plan. That will mean that health care only covers people who are healthy. People who are sick will be covered by the catastrophic plan if there is enough money in it. I am guessing that limits will be set on how much help people can expect from this catastrophic plan and then they will be on the hook for the balance, which still may be enough to wipe out their personal finances.

Why Democrats Should Have the Con in 2018 (and beyond)

Does your head hurt? Mine does. But I am not fooled by Republican obfuscation ( in plain language; lies, truth twisting). I know that in the matter of health care the Democrats need to have the con. I don’t care if Republicans keep referring to the idea of single-payer health care as socialism. A label will not kill you; inadequate health care, or health care that excludes because it is too expensive will put many people’s lives or lifestyles at risk. Republicans do not like the government to contribute to any programs that benefit citizens. They truly believe this is not the province of government. However, as world populations increase and climate change (which is real) affects things like food supplies and clean water and rising rates of disease, the government (our taxes) may need to contribute more to our comfort and protection rather than less.

Republicans are Bipartisan (what?)

As for the nonsense in some ads that claims our Republican representatives in Congress are bipartisan it is all I can do not to throw something weighty at my TV. There are many people in America and in my community who believe that these claims are accurate. If you followed the votes on Countable or listened to any news channel other than Fox or the local channels now owned by Sinclair then you know the facts. Once in a while, when Republicans had enough votes to pass legislation without requiring everyone to vote yes they excused some congress people in contested districts to allow them to vote no so they could later claim to be bipartisan. But voting with Trump 90% of the time is hardly a valid claim to bipartisanship. In this case this is just lying. Aren’t we sick of such blatant lying? Is bald-faced lying more honest than less-obvious lying? Can lying come out of a President’s mouth and be classified as “just a game”?

Which Party Actually Serves We the People?

Democrats may not be able to deliver on their promise of “single-payer” health care right away, or family leave, or guaranteed employment programs that cover people when jobs are scarce, but they will govern in such a way as to begin to move our federal government in directions that offer more to we the people and that stop pandering to the wealthiest among us. I really have nothing against wealth but I have a real problem with stacking the deck, with the rich legislating in favor of the rich, and with hoarding. Do people not hear the vastly overconfident Mitch McConnell daring to talk about cutting Medicare and Social Security right before an important midterm election? Doesn’t it get you riled up enough to vote this old man right out of his position at the head of the majority in the Senate. Vote in a new majority, get a new majority leader and end the drumbeat against programs we pay for.

Don’t let these ads confuse you. Vote anyway. Vote wisely.

Graphic: From a Google Image Search, Phys.org

Limited Government – A Terrible Idea

Limited Government: The “nanny state” and Political Correctness

Republicans love to talk about limited government. It is always at the top of their wish list. But limited government is code for many different things. To some who feel that the government has become too invasive in our private lives, the old “nanny state” meme blames bleeding heart liberals for trying to wrap people in a protective bunting of rules and regulation. Perhaps it began with seat belts or car seats or work safety oversight (OSHA) but, according to some, it turned into one of those rubber band balls that stay small for a while and then grow more rapidly in size and complexity. Doesn’t really matter how it began, there were Americans who felt that these rules made them feel like they were living in a “petty” dictatorship, Authoritarianism Lite. This all seems a bit hyperbolic now given the real authoritarianism which is a constant risk in the administration of 45.

Lumped in with these safety laws were the increasing admonitions to use language that is “politically correct” or inoffensive to all of the diverse groups that make up America. Independent-minded Americans have lost it. They do not want to “knuckle under” to the free speech police. They don’t care if it serves the interests of civility and kindness and the humane treatment of others. They already agreed to call Indians “Native Americans”, but now they were supposed to say “indigenous people”. It was a bridge too far for some. These linguistic battles have not served to unite us, that’s for certain.

Now we are in a battle, fomented by GOP propaganda, of “real Americans” versus other ethnic groups, which could easily end with various “tribes” retreating to separate corners, leaving Americans with a prolonged culture war. Our electoral college gave us a President who flaunts his right to be politically incorrect, but it is taking the word civil out of civilization.

Federalism, Constitutional Purity and States Rights

However these things are not what other, often more powerful, Republicans are saying when they talk about limited government. And there are two sides to how limited government would look if Republicans actually got their wish. Idealistically Republicans say that this is about restoring Constitutional “purity”. They believe we have wandered too far from the intentions of our forefathers. The Constitution gives the federal government the right to write laws, pass laws, and pass judgment on the constitutionality of those laws. But purists (fundamentalists) say that the Constitution gives the federal government the right to rule the nation only in a few areas, mainly military concerns and foreign relations, and that all rights not designated to the federal government belong to the states.

They know the Federalists (state’s rights) faction lost their original argument to make America a loose affiliation of strong states under a weak national government back in the 18th century. Although our forefathers did decide to go with a stronger federal government today’s Republicans are reviving the old Federalist arguments, and they would like to ditch the conclusion our forefathers reached and become strict Federalists. Of course this means throwing out about two centuries of law and tradition and basically starting from scratch. It also means that states would begin to look more like independent nations. You might need a visa one day to travel to another state. It seems like a pretty extreme way to avoid public health care (and a few other things Republicans don’t like).

The first order of business of modern Federalists was to get Republicans in control of the United States government so they could dismantle it. They were aided in this by having some very rich industrialists on their side who stood to benefit from all the deregulation which would accompany this reorganization. These industrialists either formed a web of think tanks and Conservative groups or found ways to connect groups that already existed and were like-minded. Right wing groups met at yearly gatherings and eventually formulated an ideology and a plan of action to implement that ideology. Their machinations have been amazingly successful. The Republicans now own all three branches of our government.

Trump has been surprisingly helpful in this endeavor to tame the sprawl of the federal government. He has done this inadvertently because he wants to save America all by himself. He needs to be a hero. Even if he is perceived by many as incompetent or as a villain, if he just concentrates on his own followers he is the hero he aspires to be. He must have to delegate tasks within his businesses, but he does not want to delegate tasks in government. He doesn’t trust civil servants. Out of tradition and law they pursue objectives set by previous presidents. He likes to lead through placing his henchmen, who have pledged their loyalty to him and him alone, in offices that have the names of real American agencies but which no longer function as the original entities did. These agencies and offices are now are part of the Trump spiderweb and do Trump’s business. As a result he does not need to fill positions in these agencies or offices. Staff numbers are going down. It is becoming impossible to rely on civil servants completing routine tasks to keep government as we have known it functioning. Fewer government employees equals limited government. Et voila. Winning.

More About State’s Rights

State’s Rights was a battle cry of Democrats when the Democrats consisted of the people who are now Republicans, and is still the oft-repeated refrain of the Republicans since the Civil War and Reconstruction. Americans who cry the loudest about restoring the rights of states seem concentrated in the Southern and the Western states. People claim to love the rights of the poor usurped states whenever they want something that is opposed to what the majority of the nation wants.

Southerners were beaten in the Civil War but, in a sense they felt a terrible anger about it and their spirits refused to accept it. They loved their general, General Lee, they loved their Southern plantation culture; they loved their wealth and their lifestyle. They knew that the end of slavery would be the end of the plantation system. There were plenty of examples in the nearby islands in the Caribbean. That pride was so strong that it has been kept alive to this day and even romanticized by many Americans.

Justice was done but it has always been an uneasy and contentious justice and we have still made no real peace with it for many, many reasons most of which fall under the heading of racism. But when Southerners lost the Civil War and lost “their property” they went crazy and lost all humanity in a lust for vengeance and punishment. Whenever freed slaves tried to use the freedoms they had recently won, especially to vote or hold public office or own land, they were terrorized, viciously attacked and often slaughtered. Freedom has been won piece by tiny piece with spilled blood and dashed hopes.

Posse Comitatus

The Southerners balked under Federal attempts to control Reconstruction in the South. They argued that state and local government should have control over what was happening in the South. The federal government, experiencing some scandal and turmoil of its own, capitulated and gave local sheriffs power to rule their own domains. The rest of the nation then turned their backs on the mayhem that ensued.

Once that battle for power was won it has used precedent to justify some fairly rebellious behaviors. Most recently it reared its ugly head in the Cliven Bundy matter. Westerners resent that so much land has been designated as federal land, although there has not been any big rush to develop most of the land the government protects, or hoards (depending on your point of view). When the government decided to clamp down on Mr. Bundy, a rancher who grazed his cattle for free on government land that others paid a fee to graze their cattle on, Mr. Bundy refused to accept the power of the federal government and appealed to the superior power of the local sheriff that hails back to those very post-Reconstruction days that we have been talking about.

During Cliven Bundy’s confounding stand Rachel Maddow went over the historical basis for this claim written in the Posse Comitatus Law. The militia movement, which has similar roots, and which has been growing in America along with the stubborn power of the NRA, revealed itself when people showed up with long guns, lying prone on US highways pointing those rifles through concrete road barriers at federal officers. It was a shocking stand-off and the federal government backed down to avoid escalating the matter with killings. That’s some of the ideological background on limited government. Behind the bizarre ideological rationale is an ersatz economic argument for limited government

The Ayn Rand Justification/Rationalization for Limited Government

With the advent of the Tea Party we began to hear new arguments for limited government. These arguments were based in money, economics, finance. America was changing. The factories which gave people good salaries without a college education had flown the coop, gone on a World Tour. People were not feeling quite so flush. Then they lost their houses in what was a scandal of bad risks by banks and the stock market, a bid for short-term profit over long-term fiscal health. The victims got spanked but the big dogs, for the most part, got off with a hand slap. They are already at their scams again.

People decided that they were unhappy with the way their taxes were being used. They had a little help from Republicans who supposedly backed the Tea Party folks, Republicans like Paul Ryan who read a seminal book by Ayn Rand in college or high school and decided that spreading Rand’s gospel suited the dilemma of those in the Tea Party and, incidentally, the goals of the Republican Party re limited government. A marriage made in one man’s mind.

I don’t like or respect Paul Ryan but even I must admit that his message caught on like a wildfire and is, even now, changing America beyond recognition. What he said that appealed to so many, was this – social government programs do not help people who are down and out, they actually hurt them. These programs keep people down and turn them into permanent dependents. We need to stop funding social programs (which would, in theory, cut taxes) – no welfare, no food stamps, no Medicaid, no Medicare, no Social Security, no federal control over or funding of education.

Socialism

I always say that you can’t have socialism in a democracy because we the people pay our taxes and we say how the money will be used and that makes social programs democratic, not socialist. But the new truth is that we the people don’t contribute enough taxes to pay for the enormous military that “patriots” clamor for and for the social programs that serve as safety nets for we the people in times of trouble or need.

Without the 1% Americans are basically poor. If these miserly folks no longer want to pay taxes that will be used for people who don’t work (or can’t work) then we the people are screwed. Why we have given all these wealthy people all our money is now a moot point. The deed is done and they will use any reasoning necessary to claim that they are entitled to it. They do not mind turning America into a third world country because they plan to live above it all. All of America has now become colonized by these rich few. The right has managed to push the left to the far left and when they express fears of socialism now it is because socialism may be our only way out of  all this planned inequality.

Conclusions

We are clearly on a path to limited government in all its manifestations. I am guessing that we will not like it one little bit if it comes to pass. That dangerous mob, the vociferous left, created as backlash to an extreme right wing, may someday save us from the chaos of running each state as an independent entity and each local government as a fiefdom. Pick the Dems (the Dims) to save us from having to take a sad detour into “limited government”.  (I’m confused, how can you be dim and a dangerous mob at one and the same time.) “Limited government” is an outdated concept and it belongs in the oubliette of history.

Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search – Medium, twenty48.net

Fear by Bob Woodward – Book

Bob Woodward (of Watergate fame) recently published his exposé of the chaos in the early days of the Trump White House called simply, Fear: Trump in the White House.If you have been paying attention to the news (not Fox) then what you are reading in this book is hardly surprising. You see Steve Bannon come and go. The James Comey drama is in there. You see the contributions of people who played a role in those early days but are now gone, like Hope Hicks and Rob Porter. Tillerson and Trump disagree about foreign policy and Tillerson is replaced by Pompeo. Some of Trump’s fears about the Mueller investigation are covered.

There was a recent article in the NYT’s written by an anonymous source who told us that Trump’s West Wing staff are so worried about Trump’s orders telling them to design documents that will solidify bad policies, orders to place those documents on his desk to be signed, that they delay producing the papers and even remove the documents if they appear on Trump’s desk. They know that Trump’s mind jumps around from one idea to the next and that if the policy document is not placed in front of him he will forget about it (for a while). This is all covered in Woodward’s book. Woodward was there so it helps us feel like we are actually in the Oval Office, flies on the wall, experiencing staff fears in real time.

One of the greatest of all the fears is the one that shows us that someone who formed his policy ideas in some earlier decade, someone as inflexible as Trump, someone unwilling to learn about in-depth intelligence and to apply it to his fondly-held theories, someone unwilling to evolve, to revise old dogma, to encompass new data controls the nuclear codes. People in former administrations did not lightly make nuclear threats in hopes that going nuclear will turn enemies into friends. We don’t usually brag that our nuclear capabilities are greater than those of our enemies although we believe that it is basically understood. Nuclear boasting might backfire and the consequences could be devastating. Sometimes threatening documents, once produced, were removed from presidential proximity before he could sign them, but the fear that surrounds any casual treatment of nuclear weapons is always there.

Bob Woodward is not just making us aware that Trump’s staff lives in fear of Trump inadequacies and belligerent nature; he is telling us that we need to be fearful of a man who is filling a position he does not understand. We need to know that he is running America on ego, calcified opinions, and praise elicited by implied threats (fear). We need to follow Bob Woodward into those rooms in our nation’s White House and watch the slapdash way that business is now conducted daily in America. His account is very readable and the actual meat of the book ends well before the pages do. What follows is a section of photos, some pretty useful end notes, and a detailed index. If you have been paying attention to an in-depth news station like MSNBC it will all be very familiar. What will be different is that this time you are “in the room where it happens”.

The children in this Rainbow Room video offer revealing and very brief reviews of Bob Woodward’s book, reviews that sum things up very well.

https://mashable.com/video/stephen-colbert-reading-rainbow-woodward-trump/#FGlobArRcZqb

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Washington Times

Trump’s Adolescent Behavior

 

Why does President Trump act like an adolescent? Why do Trump’s middle school nicknames work? Today he is assigning demeaning nicknames to the Democrats. He chuckles as he calls us the Dims (instead of the Dems). It is absolutely the move of a bully, who never enters the fray, except with this childish name-calling. He is only brave enough to poke people in their egos at a distance. Why does it work when he calls Kim Jong un “little Rocket Man”, except that here we have a case of one bully calling out another bully, so I sort of get why that works. Trump’s people love this stuff, this Roman-coliseum, lions-vs-Christians stuff. Perhaps the entire thing is like a sports game to these folks, lovers of tailgating (nothing wrong with tailgating).

Why does making fun of honest people work for this man, this crooked man, this cheater with no empathy or morals? Why was it OK with his peeps for him to make fun of a media guy with a disability? Why was it great fun to suggest that Dr. Blasey Ford did not remember enough about her own near rape. She may have been fifteen, but I bet she knows who was in that room, even if she doesn’t know where it was. Maybe she had a little crush on one of those two boys and that is why she went to a house party that she would usually have avoided. I bet that crush ended real fast. Is something wrong with me that I find this name-calling disgusting? There seem to be other people who feel the same way.

My brother was a teenager who tortured his own younger sisters. He had a group of friends. We all grew up with those boys. But then they started drinking and showing off for each other. My brother became an entertainer. He made up long nicknames which cannot and will not be repeated and reeled them off when the girls got home from school. My mother seemed helpless to stop it. These three sisters had to walk the gauntlet through those boys every day for a while. They were either reduced to tears or learned to pretend to ignore them. I believe it did psychic damage, but of course they grew up and had careers and husbands and children. Even my brother became a loving husband and father. There are scars though, on boys and girls alike.

This is bullying. It is not entertaining. It may bring laughter but at someone else’s expense. Trump is trying every trick in the book to belittle the Democrats. He must be really worried now about the 2018 midterm elections. Otherwise why would he bother to think up more nicknames. (Do our “leaders” sit around the oval office offering suggestions or expressing their approval.) But if he runs out of nastiness and rancor and fear of losing he can always resort to that chant “lock her up” because only men are innocent until proven guilty, not women.

 

How did we get a President who is stuck in his adolescence? We deserve better. How does he get away with it all – the sexual abuse, the lies, the criminal financial behavior, the in-your-face desecration of the Constitution? I am still in shock that we have no way to ditch a bad President. If we don’t vote for the “Dims” at midterms then we are the crazy ones. All three branches of Congress should not belong to the same party. Vote to make sure that situation ends.

If we don’t win in November this all gets worse and we have to look at Mitch McConnell’s happy face some more, which is something I would dearly like to avoid.

Photo Credits: From Google Image Search – Vox, Medium

Have Your Say in the Mainstream Media

Newspaper.

Recently I have been motivated to comment on articles appearing in the opinion section of the New York Times. I hope some of you will get in the habit of using this unique opportunity to have your say in a paper that has such a wide circulation. Usually my offerings are approved, although they have never been a Times pick or a reader’s pick yet. I think it takes time to build up an audience that likes (or hates) your voice. There are, I have noticed a few things that will get your response rejected. Being too radical, or saying things that could be construed as trolling are unacceptable, as is resorting to any of the words on George Carlin’s list of words you can’t use on TV (or in the media). (Look it up; it must be on You Tube.) Here’s an example of a response I wrote last week, hopped up on the Kavanaugh hearings, that was not accepted by the NYT.

“Everyone talks about tribalism as if it explains away all our political differences, but it does not. Why are the policies on the right so different from those on the left. As a lefty I cannot agree to stay silent while Republicans consent to an immigration policy that looks like a Nazi pogrom. I cannot agree to policies of limited government which are really just designed to take we the people out of American democracy and turn the United States of America into a collection of loosely affiliated states. I cannot forget that the Republicans refused to even give a hearing to Merrick Garland.

I am listening to Charles Grassley stand before the Senate and accuse Democrats of conspiracy, an opinion that relies only on GOP paranoia. They always believe the other side is doing what they would do. I thought the Democrats were fine. They were brave to support their constituents when they knew they were more likely to earn insults from their peers than accolades. Kavanaugh was, I believe, coached and coached badly at the White House. I don’t think he has the maturity to serve on the highest court in the land.”

I wrote this as a response to a David Brooks article about the Kavanaugh confirmation hearing where he characterizes the way Americans responded as “tribalism”, a characterization which makes everyone’s motives look inauthentic, which they are not, at least for many of us. I guess I could have said that instead of what I actually said. Anyway this opinion was ruled unacceptable.

Today I responded to a Charles Blow article which I very much agreed with and my comments were judged acceptable. Mr. Blow argues that we are actually in a war, a war of parties, a war of ideologies, a war for the kind of future we will live in.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/07/opinion/brett-kavanaugh-supreme-court.html

My comment on Charles Blow’s article in the NYT.

“I would say that the words Republicans like to use as a rallying cry are “limited government”. In a nation of 350+ million limited government as they define it is a ludicrous notion. It argues for defuse governance. It is somewhat equivalent to the fight after the Civil War about who governed local law enforcement. Getting the Federal government to back off gave angry Southerners who lost the war absolute power to terrorize those who they, even after the war, considered their property. Republicans want limited government so that the individual states can do as they please, sometimes about trivial stuff like teaching creationism in schools (or leaving Hillary Clinton and Helen Keller out of textbooks), sometimes about more important issues such as who controls women’s bodies or deregulation and more.

I wrote a book warning that we were already in this war before the 2016 election (way before). The US Republican Constitution: A Nonfiction Constitutional Thriller by N. L. Brisson. It speaks more to strategies than to motives. But it does make it clear that the goal of the GOP was to control all three branches of government.”

So have at it and subscribe to a newspaper so you can effectively express your views and get a bigger readership for your passionately-held opinions.

You can also send articles to the editors of most newspapers but look up their editorial guidelines first. All media sources that I have consulted say they will only accept articles that have not been published elsewhere so you can’t recycle. You must write something new.

A Plea to Support Major Media Sources

The New York Times has changed since ownership changed, even though it stayed in the family. The NYT used to be solidly liberal. Now it is trying to be a bit of everything. In fact I see more right leaning writers on the opinion page than ever since the paper decided to present all points of view. I am sorry for this change. I know that Republicans complain that too much of the media leans left, but they are so extreme that moderate Republicans appear to them to be leaning left. I see this editorial change on the opinion page as, in part, an attempt to escape the most scathing effects of Trump’s diatribes against mainstream media. Also some Republican writers have joined the opposition (sort of). But I’m thinking the real basis for this change is money. Papers, even digital papers, are finding it hard to support themselves, pay reporters and writers and keep going. Appealing to a wider readership brings in more income and helps a paper or online journal survive.

Whenever you can afford to, go behind that pay wall and subscribe to your favorite media sources. Democracy cannot survive unless our media survives. At the very least try to subscribe to the New York Times, and, if you can, add on the Washington Post and your local paper (unless like mine it has taken a turn to the right). I also like to read The Daily Beast, Salon, The Hill and need to add The Atlantic. I have managed to pay three subscription fees so far this year, but I may not always be able to do that. If I had to pick one source it would have been the New York Times, but since the editorial changes I am not so sure about that. However, the Times still has enough to keep me happy for now.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Tennesee Press Assoc.

 

That Was Humiliating – Kavanaugh Hearings

Well that was humiliating – that whole process of confirming Brett Kavanaugh was emblematic of what happens when political parties have to go to war. Democrats are not only a minority party in the Legislative branch, they are demeaned and used as bait by a President who has no ideology but winning (for him and his team, which represents him). Democrats did what their constituents expected them to do. Since Brett Kavanaugh was actually a nomination by the very right wing Federalist Society, he is clearly on that list because he shares the right wing ideology of the President and the Republicans and will vote predictably on their behalf. Democrats do not share Republican ideology, not any of it. They have no recourse but to fight his confirmation.

During confirmation hearings the members of the Judiciary Committee and the Senate as a whole (Republicans and Democrats) typically try to get glimpses of how someone will vote if they are passed through to the courts, in this case the Supreme Court. Recent tradition, which says that nominees cannot give hypothetical verdicts or comment on current cases makes it quite difficult to learn about candidates in any great depth. Usually there is a paper trail of documents and decisions that can be researched to provide possible answers from past rulings and statements to tell us how a nominee will rule in the future. In this case all of the papers from when Kavanaugh worked in the Bush administration were withheld. Some things were known from when Kavanaugh served in the Ken Starr investigation into Bill Clinton’s consensual philandering in the oval office.

Democrats were able to score a few points against Brett Kavanaugh but he basically came off as a saintly husband and father and a well-respected judge on the federal court bench who just happened to have the same beliefs about the human condition and governance as those on the far right of American politics. The Democrats were not able to be very effective. Their points were more like little bee stings to this smiling, confident, relatively young man (who could be on the Supreme Court for 40 years or more). Even the demonstrators, who were very brave to be so assertive in front of such an intimidating group, were dealt with so swiftly that we barely knew their cause.

The Republicans are vindictive in their power. They lord it over the minority. They disparage them. They make it seem like it is pitiful for them to even try to compete with this arrogant bunch of old white men. They dump 42,000 documents on the Dems (which the Republican members have already seen) the night before the hearings. They want to humiliate the Democrats, to bring them to their knees, to make them meekly cave to the might of our nation’s last holdouts from an old, old order. Usually the rules of the game say that you treat the minority party with civility because they might be in the majority again one day. Chuck Grassley’s pretense of civility was somewhat grotesque and more than a little inauthentic. I would guess that Republicans do not think that the Democrats will ever be in power again.

Diane Feinstein, of course, had a letter from Professor Christine Blasey Ford which the Republicans and, apparently her own party members on the Judiciary knew nothing about. Perhaps she knew that the events described in that letter were like a mine buried in a very big old mine field and that there was no map of that mine field. Perhaps she did not want to ask Dr. Ford to reveal herself unless there was no other option left to the Democrats. Perhaps she withheld it, as Republicans contend, until it could serve as another way to delay the proceedings and cast more shade on Kavanaugh. We may never know.

I believed that Diane Feinstein was sincerely interested in protecting Dr. Ford, if she could, from the Republicans who would be livid in the face of her allegations, who were mostly old men with odd beliefs about men and women and even about rape. But I am a liberal so no one, except possibly other liberals, will agree with me on that. But I am sad for the way Dr. Ford’s efforts turned out. It makes her look like she either tried to help the Democrats with a really great job of acting, or that she really was just a mixed-up broad who was attacked and who just decided that it was Brett Kavanaugh because, we don’t know why.

What began as a polite pause by men who never placed any credence in Blasey-Ford’s memories, but who, because of the #metoo movement felt they had to hold their horses, however impatiently, to let her have a moment, ended up giving these men exactly the moment of derision they hoped to get, even if they did have to suppress evidence to get that tainted victory. If was clear after she gave her testimony that there were problems. So many specifics were missing and she had received no collaboration from her old friend Leland who was supposedly also present at this impromptu party. But that yearbook with all its odd entries that seemed sexual, but which we were told were about drinking, seemed to offer some backup to Ford’s portrayal of Kavanaugh’s character.

So now all we are left with is one university professor and the as-yet-unknown affects her testimony will have on her life, one humiliated elder stateswoman who tried to be kind, a bunch of nasty old men who will get their way once again and be able to subject us all to their reactionary agenda long after they are gone, and a man who will no longer have to pretend to be anything but what he is once he is confirmed to the Supreme Court. I would not want to be on this version of the Supremes. Will Kavanaugh be able to put the mean boy away or will his rulings be his vengeance?

To find out the true nature of a man who was intended to be the easiest confirmation ever to the highest court in the land, who it was felt had bona fides that made him a shoe-in, the perfect proof that the elite men of the 50’s were still being produced on an assembly line near you, but not too near you – after all you never went to Yale, or a private prep school for that matter, that was the task in front of the Democrats, and it was a Herculean task. There will, however, be no heroic outcome, no villain exposed, no pretender vanquished. Instead there may be a backlash against a minority party that just did its job. To put a topper on the whole valiant attempt we have to watch a man who should be a gracious winner, (Mitch McConnell) draw (loudly in front of all of America) his paranoid conclusions, besmirch the losers with unprovable judgments, and gloat. To put a extra topper on it all, we are told that it made Republicans, who smell blood, more excited to vote in the midterms. Ouch.

Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search – New York Post, The Mercury News

October 2018 Book List

October 2018 Book List

I am attempting to be a bit more interactive so I am turning this book list into

A Survey and a Drawing

Choose 5 titles that interest you from this book list. Write them on a post card or a on a sheet of paper to place in an envelope. Send your list to PO Box 3876, Syracuse, NY 13220.

Drawing: After I receive 50 surveys I will pick a winner and send a mug (see picture at the end of the list. You will need to add your email address to the card or note (I will not keep it after the drawing) so I can contact you if you win. You will also need to say whether you want the cup that has the flowered armchair, or the cheap seats.

Amazon

Literature and Fiction

Virgil Wander by Leif Enger

Killing Commendatore: A Novel by Haruki Murakami *

Unsheltered: a Novel by Barbara Kingsolver *

Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners by Gretchen Anthony

A Spark of Light: A Novel by Jodi Picoult

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

Waiting for Eden: A Novel by Eliot Ackerman

Little: A Novel by Edward Carey

November Road: A Novel by Lou Berney

Gone So Long: A Novel by Andre Dubus III

Mysteries and Thrillers

The Other Wife by Michael Robotham

Mycroft and Sherlock by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Anna Waterhouse

The Reckoning by John Grisham *

Wrecked (An IQ Novel) by Joe Ide

Bitter Orange by Claire Fuller

The Craftsman: A Novel by Sharon Bolton

Consumed (Firefighters Series) by JR Ward

Thin Air: A Novel by Richard K. Morgan

November Road: A Novel by Lou Berney

Classic American Crime Fiction of the 1920’s by Leslie S Klinger, Otto Penzier

The Witch Elm by Tana Frence

Transcription by Kate Atkinson

Nonfiction

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

Brand by Hand: Blisters, Calluses, Clients: A Life of Design by Jon Contino

Last Days of the Concorde: The Crash of Flight 4500 and the End of Supersonic Passenger Travel by Samme Chittum

Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion and Revolution by Ben Fountain *

1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List by James Mustich *

Dare to Lead: Brave Work, Tough Conversations, Whole Hearts by Brené Brown

Brief Answers to the Big Questions by Stephen Hawking

Thirst: A Story of Redemption, Compassion and a Mission to Bring Clean Water to the World by Scott Harrison, Lisa Sweetingham

Impossible Owls: Essays by Brian Phillips

The Fifth Risk by Michael Lewis

Beastie Boys Book by Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz

Like War: The Weaponization of Social Media by PW Singer, Emerson T Brooking

The Souls of Yellow Folk: Essays by Wesley Yang

Biographies and Memoirs

The Greatest Love Story Ever Told: An Oral History by Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally

I Regret This: Essays, Drawings, Vulnerabilities and Other Stuff by Abbi Jacobson

My Love Story by Tina Turner *

The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie and Lee by Sam Kashner, Nancy Schoenberger *

Everything’s Trash But It’s Okay by Phoebe Robinson, Ilana Allzer

All You Can Ever Know: A Memoir by Nicole Chung

The Ravenmaster: My Life with the Ravens at the Tower of London by Christopher Skaife

This Will Only Hurt a Little by Busy Phillips

Who is Michael Orvitz? By Michael Orvitz

Mad, Bad, Dangerous to Know: The Fathers of Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce by Colm Toibin

Roger Daltry: Thanks a Lot Mr. Kibblewhite: My Story by Roger Daltrey

There Will Be No Miracles Here: A Memoir by Casey Gerald

Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom by David W Blight

Ruth Bader Ginsburg: A Life by Jane Sherron de Hart

Science Fiction and Fantasy

Exit Strategy: The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells

New York Times Book Review

Sept. 2

Nonfiction

The Splintering of the American Mind by William Egginton

The Coddling of the American Mind by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

Arthur Ashe: A Life by Raymond Arsenault

Bitwise by David Auerbach

Identity by Francis Fukuyama

The Lies that Bind by Kwame Anthony Appiah

Dead Girls by Alice Bolin

Against Memoir by Michelle Tea

Dickinson’s Nerves, Frost’s Woods by William Logan

Fiction

Red, White, Blue by Lea Carpenter

Safe Houses by Dan Fesperman

The Garden Party of Fugitives: A Literary Tale of Love and Obsession by Ceridwen Dovey

This Mournable Body by Tsitsi Dangarembga

Read Me by Leo Benedictus

The Shortlist

A Walk Through Paris by Eric Hazan

My Twenty-Five Years in Provence: Reflections on Then and Now by Peter Mayle  *

A Bite-Sized History of France: Gastronomic Tales of Revolution, War, and Enlightenment by Stéphane Hénaut and Jeni Mitchell

(not quite) Mastering the Art of French Living by Mark Greenside

Crime Novels

Gravesend by William Boyle

Depth of Winter by Craig Johnson

In Her Bones by Kate Moretti

Sunrise Highway by Peter Blauner

Sept. 9

Nonfiction

The 21 Lessons for the 21stCentury by Yuval Noah Hazari

Fashion Climbing by Bill Cunningham

Between Hope and Fear: A History of Vaccines and Human Immunity by Michael Kinch

Boom Town by Sam Anderson (Oklahoma City)

Small Trip by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

The Last Englishmen: Love, War, and the End of Empire by Deborah Baker

Fiction

Presidio by Randy Kennedy

The Devoted by Blair Hurley

The World is a Narrow Bridge by Aaron Their

Cherry by Nico Walker

Open Men by Lisa Locascio

Babylon by Yasmina Reza

Katerina by James Frey

Sept. 16

Nonfiction

How Fascism Works by Jason Stanley

These Truths by Jill Lepore  *

The Browns of California by Miriam Powell

Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg

Heartland by Sarah Smarsh

Rule Makers, Rule Breakers by Michele Gelfand

Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin

The Embattled Vote in America by Allan J. Lichtman

The Fall of Wisconsin by Dan Kaufman

The Improbable Wendell Willkie by David Levering Lewis

The Oath and the Office by Corey Brett Schneider

America: The Farewell Tour by Chris Hedges *

Fiction

Conscience by Alice Mattison

Crime

The Man Who Came Uptown by George Pelicanos

A Forgotten Place by Charles Todd

When the Lights Go Out by Mary Kubica

Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler

Essays

Rising Out of Hatred by Eli Saslow

Sept. 23

Fiction

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan

Still Life with Monkey by Katharine Weber

Romance

The Governess Game by Tessa Dare

Josh and Hazel’s Guide to Not Dating by Christina Lauren

Stripped by Zoey Castile

Free Fall by Emma Barry and Genevieve Turner

The Duke I Tempted by Scarlett Peckham

The Shortlist (Fiction-Lost young men)

Empire of Light by Michael Bible

aBrother: A Novel by David Chariandy

A Diet of Worms by Erik Rasmussen

Nonfiction

Can You Tolerate This? By Ashleigh Young

The Schoolhouse Gate by Justin Driver

A Chill in the Air by Iris Origo

Underbug by Lisa Margonelli

The Victorian and the Romantic by Neil Stevens

Big Game by Mark Leibovich

The Real Lolita by Sarah Weinman

Rust and Stardust by T. Greenwood

Ticker by Mimi Swartz

Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy by Anne Boyd Rioux

Disordered Brain by Eric Kandel

Sept. 30

Fiction

My Struggle, Bk. 6, by Karl Ove Knausgaard

Lake Success by Gary Shteyngart  *

His Favorites by Kate Walbert

The Winter Soldier by Daniel Mason

The Silence of the Girls by Pat Barker

Ohio y Stephen Markley

Immigrant Montana by Amitava Kumar

The Piranhas by Roberto Saviano

Nonfiction

The Field of Blood by Joanne Freeman

Passing for Human by Liana Finch

Publisher’s Weekly Tip Sheet

Sept. 3

Better Times by Sara Batkie (Short Stories)

Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs  (NF)

Terra Nullius by Claire G Coleman (F)

Fashion Climbing: A Memoir with Photographs by Bill Cunningham (Memoir)

Pay No Heed to the Rockets: Life in Contemporary Palestine by Marcello DiCintio (NF)

The Last Palace: Europe’s Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House by Norman Eisen (NF)

Pale Horse Rider by William Cooper (F)

The Rise of Conspiracy and the Fall of Trust in America by Mark Jacobson (NF)

Every Day is Extra by John Kerry (Memoir)

The Golden State by Lydia Kiesling (F)

And the Ocean was Our Sky by Patrick Ness (F)

After the Winter by Guadalupe Nettel, trans. from the Spanish by Rosalind Harvey (F)

We That Are Young by Preti Taneja (F)

Ponti by Sharlene Teo (F)

Sept. 17

Kafka’s Last Trial: The Case of a Literary Legacy by Benjamin Balint (NF)

American Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment by Shana Bauer (NF) *

Young Benjamin Franklin: The Birth of Ingenuity by Nick Bunker (NF)

A Heart in the Body of the World by Deb Coletti (F)

Washington Black by Esi Edugyan (F)

Leadership in Turbulent Times by Doris Kearns Goodwin (NF)

The Infinite Blacktop by Sarah Gran (F)

Heart: A History by Sandeep Jauhar (NF)

The Spy and the Traitor: The Greatest Espionage Story of the Cold War by Ben Macintyre (NF)

The Tango War: The Struggle for the Hearts, Minds and Riches of Latin America during World War II by Mary Jo McConahay (NF)

How to Invent Everything: A Survival’s Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler by Ryan North (Humorous)

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth by Sarah Smarsh (Memoir)

Billion Dollar Whale: The Man Who Fooled Wall Street, Hollywood and the World by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope (NF)

Pride by Ibi Zoboi (YA+)

Sept. 21

Waiting for Eden by Eliot Ackerman (F)

Bad Friends by Ancco, trans. from the Korean by Janet Hong (F)

Transcription by Kate Atkinson (F)

Beautiful Country Burn Again: Democracy, Rebellion, and Revolution by Ben Fountain (Essays)

The War Outside by Monica Hesse (YA+)

The Fabulous Bouvier Sisters: The Tragic and Glamorous Lives of Jackie and Lee by Sam Kasher and Nancy Schoenberger (NF)

The Governesses by Anne Serre, trans. from the French by Mark Hutchinson (F)

Home After Dark by David Small  (F)

The Shape of the Ruins by Juan Gabriel Vásquez (F)

Oct. 1

All You Can Ever Know by Nicole Chung (Memoir)

The Ice Swimmer by Kjell Ola Dahl, trans. from the Norwegian by Dan Bartlett (F)

Gone So Long by Andre Dubus III (F)

Seven Types of Atheism by John Gray (NF)

What If this Were Enough? Essays by Heather Havrilesky (NF)

The Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy 2018 edited by NK Jemisin (Sht. Stories)

The Taiga Syndrome by Christine Rivera Garza trans. from the Spanish by Suzanne Jill Levine and Aviva Kana (F)

Dry by Neal and Jarrod Shusterman (YA+)

On Desperate Ground: The Marines at the Reservoir, the Korean War’s Greatest Battle by Hampton Sides (NF)

Reagan: An American Journey by Bob Spitz (NF)

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – Enger County Library

Economic Globalism: The United States of China

I find it sort of ironic that, while Republicans make the kinds of globalism advocated on the left suspect and even part of a grand conspiracy, economic globalism has been trending for years. Trade has been a global concern in America since the triangle that involved sugar, rum, and slaves.

Wikipedia:

Sugar (often in its liquid form, molasses) from the Caribbean was traded to Europe or New England, where it was distilled into rum. The profits from the sale of sugar were used to purchase manufactured goods, which were then shipped to West Africa, where they were bartered for slaves.

Imports and exports have played a role in the economies of just about every nation. However globalism went viral in the 1980’s and beyond when factories started to leave America (and other industrial nations) to tap into an unused work force that was plentiful and which did not require high wages or benefits. The temptation to keep overhead costs and employee costs low while creating new buyers and opening new markets was apparently just too tempting.

There were other perks of relocating factories such as being able to keep profits away from America where taxes were high and place them in tax-sheltered situations. Although Trump wants American manufacturers to come home to the continental United States and bring their money with them, although he wants these wealthy Americans to practice a new-old policy of “America First”, economic globalism is highly unlikely to become isolationist any time soon. I have heard of no big rush to repatriate profits sitting abroad. Neither have I heard any patriotic fervor for bringing factories back home. While a few businesses may come home, a few more businesses are always leaving. Unless we invent a fuel to use in space and a ship designed to burn it and become a center of space exploration and colonization, unless an amazing new science of cheap, safe, and efficient space technology is found, I don’t know how we become a hub of industry again as we were in the past. That’s why we need all the talented physicists and engineers we can train and attract. Getting to space is once again a race.

It is tempting to look at the way we kept our economy booming in the past and then to simply try to replicate it. If the whole culture decays and times become more primitive a new industrial age might replicate the 1890’s – 1950’s but having to take so many steps backwards just to hope that we can recreate past innovations would mean that something catastrophic had occurred. In that case we are just as likely to languish in a primitive state as we are to reinvent the combustion engine, and the assembly line.

Annoying our trading partners, blowing up established trade relationships, does not seem like the most productive way to keep the world economy (and therefore the American economy) ticking along. If we are angry at China or Mexico or any other trading partner there must be ways to negotiate trade agreements that are not harmful to our own economy. China may be experiencing temporary challenges with its debt and its currency, but the Chinese economy looks like it still has much more room for growth than ours does. Just look up the population demographics.

I am no economist but a couple of very respected economists wrote articles this week about the complex considerations we need to keep in mind when speaking of economies and trade and globalism versus nationalism.

Sam Natapoff writing in Salon begins his recent article like this:

“The U.S.-China trade war is heating up in a battle that may last for years to come. Last week President Trump imposed new tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese exports to the United States. The Chinese government responded with tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods. The economic effects of this trade war between the world’s two largest economies (the U.S. at $19 trillion and China at $12 trillion) are slowly emerging. While many around the world are ignoring this, the recent damage is only the beginning.

This U.S.-China trade war was primarily caused by confusion. The Chinese government does not understand Donald Trump’s trade goals, because they are not primarily trade goals. Donald Trump has the bit between his teeth. He wants both a victory and public adulation, to feed his ego and to keep a promise to his 2016 voters that he would renegotiate unfair U.S. trade deals. He also fantasizes that he is teaching China who is boss. What’s really going on is that China has been gaining ground on the U.S. in key strategic areas, such as military power, economic influence, and scientific accomplishment, and the U.S. is now turning to aggressively confront a new rival.

At heart, everyone should be worried. The U.S., China, and all trading nations will feel real economic pain as a result of this trade war. …

This clash of economic titans threatens all multilateral trade norms and would replace them with rising tariff and non-tariff barriers around the world, placing pressure on multiple economies and eliminating any winners from this process. More concerning, this trade volatility is triggering a run by global investors into dollar assets, increasing pressures on countries with unstable currencies that were already worried about inflation and depreciation.

Even though the U.S. is being harmed, there is no chance Trump will back down. He feels that he alone can change the global trade order, make the U.S.-China trade relationship fair, and, most importantly, he wants a personal win. This position is reinforced by several of Trump’s officials and even some outside forces, for very different reasons.”

https://www.salon.com/2018/09/29/the-u-s-china-trade-war-this-is-only-the-beginning/

There was also an interesting article in the NYT about an invisible recession and its implications for the future.

Neil Irwin writes:

In 2015 and 2016, [in the United States]…

“There was a sharp slowdown in business investment, caused by an interrelated weakening in emerging markets, a drop in the price of oil and other commodities, and a run-up in the value of the dollar.

The pain was confined mostly to the energy and agricultural sectors and to the portions of the manufacturing economy that supply them with equipment. Overall economic growth slowed but remained in positive territory. The national unemployment rate kept falling. Anyone who didn’t work in energy, agriculture or manufacturing could be forgiven for not noticing it at all.

Most important, the mini-recession of 2015-16 offers a cautionary tale for any policymaker who might want to think of the United States as an economic island.

The episode is stark evidence of the risk the Trump administration faces in threatening economic damage to negotiate leverage with other nations on trade and security. What happens overseas can return to American shores faster and more powerfully than once seemed possible.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/29/upshot/mini-recession-2016-little-known-big-impact.html

The last article I will talk about said things that some might find controversial but that I thought were illuminating. The topic here is five myths about corporations. Its written by Steven Pearlstein who writes about economics at the Washington Post.

“Thirty years ago, in the face of a serious economic challenge from Japan and Europe, the UnitedStates embraced a form of free-market capitalism that was less regulated, less equal, more prone to booms and busts. Driving that shift was a set of useful myths about motivation, fairness and economic growth that helped restore American competitiveness. Over time, however, the most radical versions of these ideas have polarized our politics, threatened our prosperity and undermined the moral legitimacy of our system. (A recent survey found that only 42 percent of millennials support capitalism.)

Here are five of the most persistent myths about corporations.

[Remember these are myths so the author sets out to prove these statements are not true. Follow the link to see the author’s reasoning about why these statements, although widely believed are not necessarily accurate.]

  1. Greed, a natural human instinct makes markets work.
  2. Corporations must be run to maximize value for shareholders.
  3. Workers’ pay is an objective measure of economic contributions.
  4. Equality of opportunity is all people need to climb the economic ladder.
  5. Making the economy fairer will make it smaller and less prosperous.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/five-myths/five-myths-about-capitalism/2018/09/27/3f0b72f6-c06f-11e8-90c9-23f963eea204_story.html

 

 

What I am trying to say is that Conservatives seem to like globalism for economics, but not when it might cost them in some way. They are inclined to use fossil fuels for as long as they are available and have lived in an oil, gas, and coal based economy for so long that they cannot conceive of an economic scenario that offers similar profits without these fuels. So when scientists and citizens talk about environmentalism, and climate change and global warming, and CO2levels all they picture is their dollars flying out the windows. It is more profitable to imagine this as a liberal plot to “redistribute wealth” than it is to take a long view and figure out what will happen when the ice caps melt and flood coastlines forever, not just during storms.

Having invested millions of dollars in building business all around the globe it seems that Conservatives are pulling back from this kind of investing in areas that are still underdeveloped, have climates that make running a business expensive, do not have enough workers or enough consumers. Once again when liberals speak of lifting up nations that are still too poor, the wealthy among us hear more dollars flying out the windows. While the world might be more stable with stronger economies in many Arab nations, African nations, and South American nations, rich folks seem to want to hang on to their own wealth rather than spread it around right now. But China is not so worried about losing individual wealth and they are filling the development gap in these nations.

Great wealth has turned our corporate heads and wealthy business people into global citizens already. They live in America only part time. They keep their money anywhere but in America. They wish to pay as few taxes as possible to help a nation of people that they have made poor by hoarding profits. No amount of excess wealth is enough. Stockpiling money for a rainy day is the prime goal. It’s mine, it’s all mine is the message. No one who did not use the public schools to get a decent education is touching a cent of my profits. No one who won’t or can’t work gets a dollar from me. If you reward them for not working they will go on not working. No one who needs to work three jobs to support dependents they had out of wedlock will engage my sympathies. They declare themselves the greatest patriots as they take their factories off to another nation where paychecks are so low as to be almost criminal. Trump thinks he can buy these people back, but they are already citizens of nowhere in particular and claiming to be an American citizen does not carry the same cachet it once did.

I cannot imagine an America isolated from everyone, turned in upon itself, not gregariously, confidently, annoyingly, and heartily interacting with nations around the globe. If we withdraw and pout about how unfairly other nations have treated us I don’t think anyone will come to comfort poor old America and try to offer expensive gifts to lure us out of our funk. The world will just go along without us and we will not only have a small government; we will have a small America. And rather than be a global force competing and scrapping with our allies and enemies we may eventually be adopted by an all-powerful Chinese Empire and become part of the United States of China. Just for a minute, imagine what we might be able to accomplish if nations worked cooperatively. I guess that can never happen unless we have reasons to toss out some excesses of national identity and national pride.

Photo Credits: From Google Image Searches: Google sites, alfahir.hu

This is a view from the cheap seats.