7-1: Just for the Fun of It

Couldn’t Resist

I try to include Donald Trump as little as possible in this lefty blog. But last week’s speech on … on … on? This fruit was just hanging too low to resist.

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6-30: In Their Own Words

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

No surprise that CNN’s lead article Wednesday is about the triple suicide bombing in Istanbul Tuesday. Their headline reads

Istanbul terror attack witness: ‘It was like hell’

In a sober, sedate discussion of heaven and hell, even their existence, hell is a word that means the “worst.” For George Orwell’s Winston Smith in 1984, hell was the fear of being bitten (eaten?) by a rat. Exposed to a rat in a cage positioned over his face, Smith encounters his hell; it is real. His total horror plunges him back to his former life as an automaton in a totalitarian society. Is that the goal of the Ataturk Airport bombers? I think the answer is yes.

There was panic everywhere,” said Mine Iyidinc. “We did not understand that it was a terrorist attack.” Extreme fear causes panic and the lack of knowledge exacerbates the effect. It would be unreasonable for everyone in the world to be trained how to act during a terror attack. For one thing, it wouldn’t save lives. To be blunt, soldiers train on how to act and react during ambushes and firefights, yet they still die during those circumstances. Even when they know immediately that they are under attack, some folks still “panic”; that’s not an indictment, just a fact. And when the terrorist believes his martyrdom will transport him directly to his idea of heaven, he is jubilant at the notion of exposing as many others as possible to their hell.
My colleagues who work at the ticket sale desk, they were on the ground and crying,” Levent Karaoglan said. “A couple of my friends are wounded, hit on the head by different objects.” One cannot fight that which one cannot see. And I will bet that seeing his colleagues in such distress also took its toll on Mr Karaoglan. Further, he said: “There are many casualties, legs, arms and everything, everywhere.” What used to be his work space is now a battle space. He may return to work , but he can never go back to the same place. It no longer exists.
It looked like a disaster movie,” said one witness, Laurence Cameron. Except it was real. One cannot smell war in a multiplex.

Random Images

  • people started rushing … screaming “‘bomb’, and screaming ‘gunfire,’ and everyone just turned around and started running”
  • “Panic just set in”
  • “Kind of a frightening scenario, not knowing what’s going on, being stuck in a corridor thinking that perhaps around the corner is someone running around with an assault rifle”
  • Outside the airport, desperate family members and friends waited for news of their loved ones
  •  dazed and shocked survivors
  • The police officers’ uniforms were soaked in blood
  • they walked through the scene in complete silence as ambulance sirens blared in the background.

Concluding Thought

“There was a silence of death covering the airport all around,” Passenger Richard Karahasan said.

 

 

6-29: Brexit Brouhaha

Definition of State

When I was in school I learned the difference between a state, e.g., New Jersey, California and a state, e.g., France, Poland. The former, in the United “States,” were almost randomly drawn, people generally spoke the same language, and they were organized around a strong central government. Thus, decisions made in Washington affect all Americans, e.g., the federal tax code, Brown vs. The Board of Education.

In the middle of the 19th century America fought a civil war over slavery, some southerners contending at the time–as do some rubes today–that the evil practice of slavery was a matter of states’ rights and that is what the war was all about, not slavery per se. The war ended, the union was preserved, and slavery was abolished, although the Ku Klux Klan and their ilk kept swinging.

Europe, Africa, and Asia consisted of different types of states. Europe is the easiest example. A state there was defined loosely as  the agglomeration of people living within accepted borders who spoke the same language, worshipped (loosely) within the same religious tradition, and traded with the same currency. So, for centuries, a Frenchman lived in France, spoke French, was likely a Roman Catholic, and bought her bread with francs.

War has dotted and blotted civilization since the beginning of history with states attempting to exert their influence over other states, with force if necessary. Greece fought Persia way back when, but city-states Athens and Sparta fought each other as well. Alliances come and go, treaties are made and broken. Empires rise and fall.

Europe has had its dalliances with monarchy, alliances, democracy, socialism, etc. Its current iteration at joining together for the greater good is the European Union, which, among other things, makes it easier for countries to conduct business among themselves.” Nay, nay,” say the feisty Brits, “we are going to call a vote to discover whether our people actually want to remain tethered to this union.” And so they did. And the “Leaves” prevailed.

People Who Live in States

Despite the rhetoric about the form a state takes, in the end, there are Poles, Slavs, Macedonians, Scots, Danes, et al. who live within a state. Largely, their “nationality” is simply an accident of birth. And at the end of the day it is a microscopic minority of “leaders” who emerge and in large degree determine living conditions within the state. oh, and by the way, the leaders never trust the people. In the United Kingdom today, for example, leaders regret that they gave their people the opportunity to express themselves about membership in the EU through a referendum. Today they are second guessing themselves and trying to figure a way to void the plebiscite.

Interruption

Continue reading 6-29: Brexit Brouhaha

6-28: Korean War a Police Action

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.

]The war in Korea, 1950-53, is often referred to as the “forgotten war.” It was a “hot” war fought right smack dab in the middle of the “cold” war. This Day in History [http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/korean-war-begins?] reports:

Armed forces from communist North Korea smash into South Korea, setting off the Korean War. This was not necessarily unexpected as the Allies agreed to separate Korea after WWII just as they had divided Berlin and Germany.

The United States, acting under the auspices of the United Nations, quickly sprang to the defense of South Korea … “quickly sprang” –Where were American troops stationed in order to engage the North Koreans with such immediacy? WWII was long over.

Korea, a former Japanese possession, had been divided into zones of occupation following World War II. That word “possession” rattles me. No wonder they were such aggressive soldiers during WWII and then in the conflict on their own land–north and south.

U.S. forces accepted the surrender of Japanese forces in southern Korea, while Soviet forces did the same in northern Korea. To the victors go the spoils. Eventual war was inevitable. For any country forced to surrender, that very act is humiliating. The Americans and Russians rubbed Korea’s nose in the forced division of their country, while also dropping Japan to its knees. The war was not over for them.

Like in Germany, however, the “temporary” division soon became permanent. No surprise there. Power corrupts.

The Soviets assisted in the establishment of a communist regime in North Korea, while the United States became the main source of financial and military support for South Korea. What could go wrong? Continue reading 6-28: Korean War a Police Action

6-27: Nixon Wasn’t All Bad

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

Title IX

In June, 1972 President Richard Nixon signed into law the Higher Education Act, which included the incredibly game changing section known as Title IX. In brief, Title IX achieved equality for women [and girls] in all fields of scholastic and intercollegiate sport. If, for example, a high school had a varsity football program, the school had to offer a comparable program for females. In most schools, as a result, field hockey jumped from an intramural sport to a fully funded and recognized varsity sport. Boys track–girls track; boys baseball–girls softball; boys and girls gymnastics, swimming, lacrosse, volleyball, basketball, tennis, soccer.

All girls sports were sanctioned at the varsity level under Title IX and thus they competed, just like the boys, in conferences and state-determined sections. This was a huge deal and Nixon deserves much credit for signing this legislation.

Watergate

And then came the Watergate scandal. The Higher Education Act was a noble move on Nixon’s part. Watergate brought him nothing but disgrace.

Ironically, in 1973 on the anniversary of signing the Higher Education Act,

,,, Nixon’s advisor, H.R. Haldeman, tells the president to put pressure on the head of the FBI to “stay the hell out of this [Watergate burglary investigation] business.” In essence, Haldeman was telling Nixon to obstruct justice, which is one of the articles Congress threatened to impeach Nixon for in 1974. (http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/haldeman-encourages-nixon-to-ward-off-fbi?)

Of course the Vietnam War continued through Nixon’s presidency and, while he was reducing the number of ground troops, he was also authorizing overt air strikes over Cambodia thereby expanding the war he promised to end. What a complicated man.

The entire country was shocked, if not rocked, by the Watergate scandal. For most Americans, I think, that is his legacy, the action that comes immediately to mind when Nixon’s name enters a conversation. Title IX? That is something we all just take for granted today, forgetting its author.

Partial Pardon

For your work in support of women’s activities, Mr. Nixon, I salute you.

6-24: GI Bill Welcomes Soldiers Home

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

Here is one paragraph from an article on FDR’s signing of the G.I. Bill, formally known as the  Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944. The full article appeared in This Day in History [http://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/fdr-signs-g-i-bill?].

The G.I. Bill became one of the major forces that drove an economic expansion in America that lasted 30 years after World War II. Only 20 percent of the money set aside for unemployment compensation under the bill was given out, as most veterans found jobs or pursued higher education. Low interest home loans enabled millions of American families to move out of urban centers and buy or build homes outside the city, changing the face of the suburbs. Over 50 years, the impact of the G.I. Bill was enormous, with 20 million veterans and dependents using the education benefits and 14 million home loans guaranteed, for a total federal investment of $67 billion. Among the millions of Americans who have taken advantage of the bill are former Presidents George H.W. Bush and Gerald Ford, former Vice President Al Gore and entertainers Johnny Cash, Ed McMahon, Paul Newman and Clint Eastwood.

Also among the millions who have taken advantage of the bill is me. I finished college thanks to the bill and I also took out a home loan on my first house. It was the first single-family home I ever lived in. FDR had the foresight and the guts to invest in the American people. Today many of his programs would be called socialist. They are. They worked. Through Roosevelt’s initiatives America did not fall back into a recession, or worse, after WWII. His treatment of soldiers coming home from the war, in my opinion, was the cherry on the top of his presidency.

Although the war was not fought in America, thousands upon thousands of Americans fought in the war. They interrupted their lives–and some gave their lives–in a cause that did not specifically affect them or their country. The G.I. Bill told them what they needed so badly to hear: Welcome home!

It is incomprehensible to me why our current legislators can’t do anything to help struggling Americans. If democrats propose free community college tuition for all, which they have, republicans call it socialism which we all know is akin to communism which we also know still threatens Western values and would bring about the downfall of civilization as we know it.

There is common ground, and it must be tilled. Washington and Lincoln found it, so did FDR. It may just be coincidental, but these were war presidents. Maybe the ravages of war led them to visions of better times, better times that were achievable. A key difference between the three presidents mentioned above and modern presidents is that the former were trying to end wars, while today’s leaders seem content trying out all the new toys corporations have made for them. Body count be damned.

The purpose and subsequent unprecedented success of the G.I. Bill should inspire today’s leaders. The economy does well when people have jobs, live in decent conditions, pay taxes, purchase goods and services. The time has come to put an end to endless war and say to our troops: Welcome home!

6-23: Palin Begets Idiocy

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

President Obama visited Orlando to lend whatever support he could to those suffering. This is what Sarah Palin tweeted about the visit.

OBAMA IS A SPECIAL KIND OF STUPID

Enough is enough, Mr. President. There’s no “due respect” due you after pulling this stunt.

If the demented Orlando terrorist doesn’t represent all Islamic followers, then why do you insinuate he represents all gun owners?

And why, after any shooting, do you always want to take away firearms from the innocent people who didn’t do it?

Yes, it’s a special kind of stupid to demand we explain ourselves. But if you really want them, get ready for our explanations. Here’s mine:

– Sarah Palin

Where to start? Maybe Sally Fields’ line as Forrest Gump’s mother: “Stupid is as stupid does.” (I never understood that one either.) The rumor goes that a lot of drinking goes on in Alaska, maybe that’s the explanation. For now, let’s try to take her at her word.

OBAMA IS A SPECIAL KIND OF STUPID / Palin adds dumb and dumber and comes up with dumbest.

Enough is enough, Mr. President. There’s no “due respect” due you after pulling this stunt. / Enough is enough, Madame Almost One-Term Governor. The biggest stunt you ever pulled was running for the vice presidency of the United States. I wonder if the sycophants who follow you on social media ever stop to think hard about what the country–and the world–would be like if you had won the election. No  respect, no respect at all.

If the demented Orlando terrorist doesn’t represent all Islamic followers, then why do you insinuate he represents all gun owners? / I heard no such insinuation. Just because you say it, does not make it so. Very few gun owners own assault rifles. Do you? Why? Are you representative of “all gun owners”? You seem to think so.

And why, after any shooting, do you always want to take away firearms from the innocent people who didn’t do it? / I suppose, as usual, you are talking about “Second Amendment rights.” I think you bring up this fatuous argument because you know that if a law is ever passed to restrict ownership of firearms of the mentally unstable, you would be reduced to shooting water pistols in your spacious back yard. Your words on this issue over the years have belied any innocence you may have ever had.

Yes, it’s a special kind of stupid to demand we explain ourselves. But if you really want them, get ready for our explanations. Here’s mine: / Yes, it’s a special kind of stupid to try to stay relevant with irresponsible, incendiary rants. Besides yourself, of course, those who care about your thoughts on serious events of the day are scary people.

– Sarah Palin / Debbie Downer

I resist writing about Sarah Palin and her ilk because she and they resemble the Kardashians and their ilk; they are all famous for being famous, not for making any meaningful contribution to the public discourse. And it is so, so frightening to think of a McCain/Palin combination in the Executive branch. We have had other wingnuts run for high office, Michele Bachman comes immediately to mind, but Palin came the closest to achieving it. Ouch!

How can the rest of the world look at us seriously when the likes of Palin beget the likes of Donald Trump. And whom is he going to pick as a running mate? I hear there is a maverick who does not want to go back to Alaska and has running mate credentials on her resume.

6-22: Aloof Leaders Disgrace Democracy

[I write about politics because of the direct link I see between the words and actions of politicians and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. America’s political class manipulates our military as though they were personal pawns in a global game of chess. To them, PTSD is merely an unfortunate cost of war.]

This from CNN:

Poll: Gun control support spikes after shooting

Washington (CNN) Support for tighter gun control laws increased 9 percentage points after the Orlando terror attack, and support for background checks and other measures being debated in the Senate hovered around 90%, according to CNN/ORC poll released Monday.

Public support for greater gun control laws always “spikes” after a mass shooting. When that happens, politicians crawl into their NRA provided caves and hide for a while, at least until the tears dry on the cheeks of family and friends of the fallen.

… Support for specific gun control measures was very strong, with 92% saying they wanted expanded background checks, 87% supporting a ban for felons or people with mental health problems and 85% saying they would ban people on federal watch lists from buying guns.
Is this not the very definition of a mandate? Term limits is my answer. If members of Congress knew they were on their way out, no matter how they voted, they would be free to vote their conscience. As it stands, most of them vote with an eye toward their next election. The system is corrupt.
Among Republicans … 90% say they favor preventing people on the terror watch list or “no fly” list from buying a gun. That number is at 85% for Democrats.
No brainer! But … Versions of those proposals were taken up in the Senate Monday evening … wait for it … All were shot down. The system is broken.
I blame politicians for getting the country into and than staying far too long in wars we should not be fighting. A consequence of those decisions for too many of our soldiers is PTSD. But not only soldiers suffer from traumatic stress. Surely, the 53 wounded in Orlando will suffer mentally and emotionally long after their physical wounds heal, if they ever do. Family and friends will suffer. First responders will suffer. Yet Mitch McConnell, Senate Majority Leader, has the nerve to say that Democrats are trying to turn the (Orlando) massacre into something or other about ISIS. That gun control is not the appropriate topic to be discussing at this time. Yes, he thinks we are fools.
It has been public knowledge for a long time that the majority of NRA members support stricter controls on gun licensing, particularly the enforcement of background checks before a purchase is finalized. So what we have here is NRA leadership (who are controlled by gun manufacturers) ignoring the overwhelming wishes of their membership and congressional leadership (in the Senate and the House of Representatives) ignoring the overwhelming wishes of their constituencies.
Citizens would not support this kind of non-leadership from the PTA, why accept it from perpetually fund raising political hacks? Yes, let’s keep America great. Elect leaders instead of lackeys.

6-21: News Dump

Yesterday was a big day in politics. The Huffington Post led with this headline and story:

Senate Fails: Gun Control Bills Go Down

In the wake of the latest and most profligate shooting in American history, this deserves top billing. We I get upset every time bills related to gun control are proposed in Congress, because every time the result disgusts me. Gutless politicians apparently believe that a moment of silence in prayer is enough to assuage the nation. Legislation to these legislators is out of the question.

What irks me more about yesterday’s news is the next five headlines/stories, presumably set forth in order of importance. Orlando, we’ve had enough of you. Now we will tell you the really important events of the day–more important than digging deeper into the 49 lives lost in a nightclub. Here are the next four headlines.

Trump Campaign in Chaos: Donald Dumps Lewandowski

Another Advisor Quits after Tweeting ‘Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead!’

Report: Trump Children Led Ouster

Anti-Trump Delegates Prep for Convention Revolt

More follow below the fold, so to speak. This is what passes as news: everything Trump. I hope that the back room cigar smokers in the Republican Party come up empty when trying to devise a “Dump Trump” scheme. Despite all the Bill Kristol ball gazing, the harrumphing from the “establishment,” and the trivialization of his campaign by the media, Trump has wiped the floor with his staggering number of competitors and won the GOP delegate derby fair and square. He has earned the title “Presumptive Nominee” of his party on his journey toward coronation inauguration as President of the United States of America. The rules were set, he played by them, he won. The fact that candidate Donald Trump embarrasses so many in his party is, well, is too bad.

I believe a Trump candidacy is important for the nation–and a Clinton candidacy as well. The country needs to know just how “popular” the candidates’ views are. Trump’s wall is not a metaphor, it is real; is this what the majority of Americans want eating up their tax dollars. Oops, forgot, Mexico is going to pay for it. Does business success predict good governance? “W” had an MBA and led us into the greatest recession in 80 years.

These are important issues and should be taken as such by the electorate. But we are presented with hyperbolic candidates. Voters either love Clinton or they hate her, no in between,  love or hate. Democrats believe Trump is a joke and Republicans think he is a bad joke. I fall into the love Clinton camp for reasons not the least of which is the circus coming to town atmosphere I sense in Trump’s run. He has not yet convinced me that he respects the office he is trying to occupy. Ironically, perhaps, that is why I want to see him run. I want to see the actual percentage of Americans who would vote for him. My prediction, written here before, is no more than 20%.

If I am right, we could see the end of off-kilter candidates. If I am wrong, let the games begin.

 

 

6-20: A Matter of Conscience

How is this for a headline?

Healthcare Company Announces Plans to Leave Kansas, Eviscerates Gov. Sam Brownback in Open Letter

The article was written by Jen Hayden and Brownback’s evisceration comes from the keyboard of Jeff Blackwood, CEO of Pathfinder Health Innovations. Basically, Blackwood intends to move his growing company from Kansas to Missouri. He writes:

 

“I can’t, in good conscience, continue to give our tax money to a government that actively works against the needs of its citizens; a state that is systematically targeting the citizens in most need, denying them critical care and reducing their cost of life as if they’re simply a tax burden that should be ignored.”

… In the full text of the letter, Mr. Blackwood said they re-evaluated staying in Kansas when they outgrew their current space. After consideration, they just can’t stay:

There are a lot of things that factor into this decision. For one, the company has outgrown our current space. There are no seats left, and we have new employees coming on every month. The state of Missouri is also helping us with some tax incentives, but these are minor considerations.

More importantly, there’s a motivation of conscience that factors into it, too. It’s not so much that I’m moving the company to Missouri as I’m moving it away from Kansas.

What a wonderful ideal for a business to hold: a motivation of conscience. The article continues.

Kansas has become a test center of “trickle down” economics, espoused by economist Arthur Laffer during the Reagan years. Nowhere has there been as thorough an implementation of Laffer’s policy recommendations… and nowhere has there been as dramatic a failure of government.

Under Brownback’s direction, Kansas implemented an unprecedented tax cut in 2012, eliminating taxes for LLCs and professional firms … and making the largest cuts in the highest tax brackets. He shifted taxes to create a heavier burden on property and sales taxes, which typically represent a larger burden on lower income brackets. Brownback declared that this tax cut would be a “shot of adrenaline” for the Kansas economy, but the reality is that the tax cuts have had the opposite effect. Kansas lags neighboring states in job growth. For 11 of the last 12 months, Kansas has dramatically missed revenue targets, falling deeper in debt and facing another round of degraded bond ratings.

There is much that I have omitted. The paragraph below, however, I think needs to be pondered.

… Brownback decided to pursue a personal vendetta against the Kansas Bioscience Authority, an organization created to spur the economic development of bioscience companies in Kansas. Brownback was convinced that funds were being misused, so he decided we needed to spend over $400,000 (conveniently, the same amount that could have kept the Lawrence SRS office open) on lawyers and auditors to pour over the KBA books. In the end, they found a total of $5,000 in misused funds, which the former KBA president repaid with a personal check. It all came down to priorities – pursue a personal vendetta at the expense of the disabled.

Continue reading 6-20: A Matter of Conscience