Sunday, July 30, 2017

As I sit here with my morning cup of coffee, keeping up with what I think is worth while, my mind wandered over, around, to and from the interlocking web that is politics and government.

More particularly I went to responsive governing, then to egalitarian stewardship, and then wrapped it around the idea of distraction, code words, and good policy.

There is always something going on, and I don't consider myself expert on any of it. I follow and generalize, just like everybody else. But I also deep think, because I got the time and obviously I'm taking great delight in following Trump.

Trump presents himself as responsive government, and give him credit, he put himself there. There is also the great lament that government is unresponsive, and I'm not going to argue the point.

The Senate, in particular, is considered the the most unresponsive of governing bodies, and the argument utilizes also the gross years many Senators have persisted in that chamber to bolster that notion. Which altogether form the impression that they are more removed from understanding directly what ails common society than any one else with like power, i.e. the House or the President.

Distraction is really not a singular object. Consider instead distraction more of a portfolio, metaphorically speaking a distraction is nothing more than a successful rhetorical device. It's doesn't matter how factual or apt the rhetoric is, the use of distraction conspires toward less attention on what matters should be attended to. Distractions, as is said, are all around us.

Code words trigger distraction, in the intellectual sense. Once I got turned onto the idea that party politics is more distraction than policy, I've began to recognize more code words than policy. Perception is reality, they also say. But I've been triggered less as a result, and am enjoying politics all the more.

In my opinion, an egalitarian chamber such as the Senate, full of long serving and far removed members isn't necessarily a bad thing. At base we are people, and there is no evidence that I've seen that suggest a rule that people at the opposite ends of a senator's experience are necessarily a good thing. How, why, and what decisions are made could be a more suitable criteria than tenure.

In fact, I can support the Senate and seniority in any number of ways, but suffice to say my opinion is that it's more important to know who is empowered than what number of years an empowered person has to his or her credit.

Removing people based more on seniority than merit seems like more distraction than good policy, and also seems "un-American." Electing someone who doesn't know what he is doing is turning out to be ______. (Fill in your own code word here.)

Saturday, July 22, 2017

I have some thoughts meandering around my cranium, but I will defer to Niels Bohr:

"Within any community it is only possible for the citizens to strive together for common welfare on the basis of public knowledge of the general conditions of the country. Likewise, real co-operation between nations on problems of common concern presupposes free access to all information of importance for their relations...The very fact that knowledge is itself the basis for civilization points directly to openness as the way to overcome the present crisis."

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

I don't feel that I have to go to any lengths to talk positively about a man who I think is a fraud, but I do like the idea of accepting what you can not change, and looking for the good in the bad.

That, and I got some time to burn on a Wednesday.

I've said repeatedly that it is not possible for someone in the office of President, whose ultimate responsibility is that of making decisions, to perform for 4 years and not do something right.  So I use that as my anchor. 

Regarding Donald Trump, its not that I hate him.  That's ridiculous, I don't even know him personally, and not until January of this year has he ever cost me anything except the money to buy his ghost written biography in the late 1980's.
No, I don't hate him, I just don't trust him.

By the way, to get it out of the way,  his "Made in America" theme is something I find no fault with.  Outside the fact that he himself doesn't live by his own nationalism rhetoric.

What I thought to write at first was in defense of Donald Trump Jr., and now that I'm sufficiently on the record as not hating Trump, and decidedly not against everything he does, I realize that I don't have to do this to compensate for my belief that Sr. is not only a fraud, but also likely treasonous too.

As the article I'll share conveys, and I surely have empathy with, Donald Trump Jr. reportedly hates being a part of this whole presidential gambit of his father and wishes it all to be over.

I thought, I bet his mother is very disappointed in him right now too.   Ivana got out of the marriage to the elder Trump, that is not only quasi heroic, but  it should indicate higher morals and ethics on her part too.    She raised her kids, not Donald,  Sr. just corrupted them.  Maybe you disagree with my opinion, but I feel more confidence in my assumptions than anyone who would defend Trump today, and who is also at the same distance I am from him.

I'm not making excuses for Trump Jr. though, but if (and I'm going to love writing this) liberal teachings apply to everyone, even wealthy sons of billionaires, then young Donald is a victim.

Of course the mitigating force on compassion is that Jr. is not a child, and this isn't the Presidency of his boarding school, and because of that, I don't hope he goes to jail, but that Sr. does what's right for a change, and resign for the sake of his family.

But that's unlikely to happen, and so life goes on....

Monday, July 17, 2017

Thirty years ago, and not long after I got into reading vigorously, I bought a book entitled, "The Art of the Deal." A biography by Donald Trump. Which turned out to be neither a biography in the sense that a life was not nearly fully lived yet so it didn't measure up to the traditional notion of biography, nor was it written by Donald Trump.

I lost interest in Donald Trump after a run of bankruptcies and ugly divorces, but not before I bought his board game, "The Art of the Deal." That was 25 years ago, but though I say I lost interest in the man, I continued a casual continuation of following his escapades.

After Donald Trump won the Presidency, I read "The Big Agenda" which is billed as "Trump's Plan to Save America." Unfortunately it was neither a big agenda, nor can I say that it has much to do with a plan to save America, unless you really buy into that kooky and paranoid world of conservative talk radio, but it is a small book, and more of a polemic by David Horowitz than an agenda.

If like me, you've read both of the above books, maybe like me, you'd be interested to know about another little book titled, "The Case for Impeachment" by Allan J. Lichtman.

Like the previous two books, this too has a title barely suited to the contents it provides. Although Lichtman's book does provide a learned opinion and well documented narrative on how an impeachment of Donald Trump could very well come to pass, a more suited title to this book would be, "Donald Trump, a Biography" for it really does more to tell the reader who Trump is via his own lived life, than the biography from the 1980s. I thought I had a notion of who Trump was, as a man, by just reading the papers and reports I came across, gosh was I wrong -- he is so much worse than my imagination.

"The Case for Impeachment" is 290 pages long, with 50 pages of notes. I thought of counting all the instances of Trumps life that the author thought could imperil his presidency with impeachment, but I thought it nearly impossible to discern how many victims of fraud there are out there, or how many instances of Trump speak enabled Donald to slide through litigation. Even more significant, as both the book and my tally would necessarily end on the specific date of print, every new day Trump has an opportunity to inflate the tally some more.

I would be remiss to not point out that it is his wealth that enables him to commit so many questionable activities, I dare say anyone I reach with this column has no chance to repeat offending like Donald Trump before landing in jail....

Making it this far into my polemic might mean, like me, you value information over bull shit. It seems to me that reading 240 pages about a topic that is destined to be a big issue is a very minor investment.

I've heard from self titled constitutionalists, populists, conservatives, liberals, and I read my share of memes, articles, and comments, but I'll consider my time spent inside this small book as more valuable if the events around the President spiral toward his impeachment -- I'll have a better understanding why.

Hours invested in talk radio isn't going to match the 240 pages here, and hysterical claims of "fake news" or reactionary echos of Trump himself only serve to diminish one's esteem to lend it to a man who neither deserves it or values it.

Read the book -- its Trump's real life story, unlike the "Art of the Deal" and its exposes a real liberal agenda, unlike "The Big Agenda."

Sunday, July 16, 2017

This is not a book review, but if you want to know what got me thinking about this sh*t, I got it from the book below.  I recommend it, of course.  The writer takes shots at people, and he crosses both parties.

But it is obvious he is a liberal.  So what?  Well that will assure about 46% of Americans would not have any inclination to read it, and that's a shame, if true.

But it had me thinking as I drove around the past couple of days since I finished the book.  Got me thinking of how "Drain the Swamp" is nothing like the necessity as other reforms, or reversals are in this country.   Whatever the swamp is in D.C.  its the particular over-run tributaries that need work on first around this country.

I don't think "Drain the Swamp" is the answer to the practical problems facing the Americans who actually need a reset, or re-invigoration.  Putting in place a 2 1/2 month federal hiring freeze does nothing for Des Moines, nor do enforcing the laws more vigorously make life easier in the Bronx, NY.  Tax cuts for the wealthiest among us is not going to make the broth in Union City any heartier after Meals on Wheels is cut.

I'm backing up a bit, to draw an analogy to history that I just thought of.   There are theories and there are practicalities. Ideals and pragmatism.   Communism has its theories,  but the Soviet Union defined its actualities.  No one thinks of the failures of communism without allusions to the Soviet Union debacle. 

"Drain the Swamp" has its intentions,  and a million people will give you a million different definitions,  but Trump and his administration will ultimately characterize what the reality of its empowerment becomes.

If I were to match up the needs of the Matt Taibbi, the author of "Divide", subjects with the production of the Jeff Session's Department of Justice and the Steven Mnuchin Treasury Department, I may as well exclaim that the cake is going to be delicious, and everyone will have a slice.  You just wait and see.
I'm being sarcastic there, alluding to Marie Antoinette's "Let them eat cake" response to the hungry peasants, as she dined in luxury at the Palace of Versailles.

The draining of a swamp in D.C. really has nothing at all to do with making life on the low end of the opportunity ladder any less difficult.   It is increasingly evident that Trump and his cronies are out to exacerbate the obstacles of one class of people while giving more to another class what they already have -- wealth and power.

What I specifically have in mind is Jeff Session's law enforcement tact and Steve Mnuchin's tax priorites.

As Taibbi, and many others, takes pages to note, law enforcement in this country is predicated on how much money one has.   In short, billionaires are pampered, while the poor are punished.

But its deeper than that.  There is just a huge disconnect between perspectives, and from my point of view, Trump is not even draining the right swamp.

I think it goes back to the differences between philosophy and reality.   Understand that I see Trump parroting lines that he hears from radio and his sycophants,  and what is said is a mix of old and new.

The old is old,  its "conservative" by-lines and adages.  Ideals and positions that haven't evolved for generations.   That doesn't make the ideas and positions bad, or wrong,  it just make them susceptible to being anachronistic --  just not applicable today.

Explore welfare fraud.  You'll find its not as costly and widespread as "conservatives" would have your believe.  Now I'm not saying it doesn't exist, or that we should cease scrutiny.  But what I'll point out is that since Reagan much has been done to root it out, that much difficulty lies in obtaining welfare, that the cost of further endeavors to accomplish that last mile of fraud eradication maybe more expensive than it is worth.

I'm saying that we can move on from that as a voting issue, because there is an apparatus working on it, and doing an effective job.

Its penny wise and pound foolish to suggest as a priority it ranks higher than, say for example, financial fraud.

Speaking of financial frauds,  has anyone meaningful been arrested or sentenced after the great banking collapse of 2008?

Right.   Just a small reminder that in the year of 2017, we face issues much larger, and more expensive, than what the 1980's presented us with.

Except today,  money buys you power at a scale and opportunity un-imagined generations ago and the trend is not moving in a favorable direction.  Unless you are on your way to becoming a billionaire.

The last thought is just to echo that cliche that the rich are getting  richer, and the poor are getting poorer.   With a new observation that businesses in particular have seldom been so profitable, and flush with cash.   To offer them a tax cut in the guise of them using that savings to hire more people is quaint, and obviously not true.

Maybe all that liquidity the wealthy and big businesses have is a swamp that doesn't need anymore water?


Saturday, July 15, 2017

"The worlds already fu*%ed, I'm just adding to it."

Its politics, and in politics there is no other way to elaborate that doesn't include talking about other people, and other points of views, that isn't in some ways confrontational.  But does it have to be so negative?

I'm talking from the perspective of a recovering addict here, which began when I admitted I had a problem.

I had a deficit of information, and as it turns out, much of that information I did have amounted to something much less than the whole.  In fact this was the problem -- listening to talk radio in an effort to gather more information.

A problem in listening to talk radio, and something I didn't have so much of during the 1990's -- visiting  the web,  is that it uses up time with very little profitable material in return, if I'm going to the same sites and shows everyday.

It turns out I did know a lot, about a lot, but I knew less about a lot than I thought I had.  From the old saw that Donald Rumsfeld wrote on, I knew some known's, but I didn't even know what I didn't know.   I had some really great arguments, but I didn't even know how paper thin they were, because I didn't spend my time wisely.  I spent it in one place, or as the case may be, I spent a lot of time in talk radio land, driving around in my car.

But when it finally dawned on me,  I wasn't too happy about it.  Maybe Google was what finally facilitated my break, it is easy to verify information on the web, after all.  Of course, the trick is to be not afraid of where the truth will take you.  That's the hard part.

I can't tell you how many bullshit stories I revealed to myself as I kept one ear occasionally on talk radio over the years,  but there are many.   Many stories and rants, perspectives and conspiracies put forth from a host that were not only false, but maliciously so.

Its a racket, its a habit, its an addiction.  I turn on Sean Hannity in the car and he is saying the same things he said 15 years ago.  Rush Limbaugh the same, and its always and forever geared to some conspiracy to account for the news headline of the day,  and all the while condemning the press for how it presents the news.

I'm really not too passionate about rescuing tortured souls from the grips of right wing talk radio, but I am adding my story for the record.   I think it might inform though too, and if it does it has been well worth the time here.

Is it probable that the vast world of the free press has a more cohesive conspiracy going than the tiny world of American right wing media outlets?  I don't think so.

In the end, its all about the numbers -- probabilities.  Is it probable that someone is right 99% of the time?   I certainly listened to some of these guys long enough to know what is tongue in cheek, and what isn't, and if veracity were any worthwhile measurement, I'm still wasting too much time listening to them.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Just Saying #456

In mid may of this year, Trump passed along secrets to the Russian Ambassador...and it was explained away.

If it passes that Trump offers anything remotely construed as a give away to Putin then I'll certainly know what to think, but I'd would still expect excuses from some corners.

...and this flap about trumps comments on twitter this morning regarding morning joe and mika....he's done it before you all!

But McCain spoke up, saying it was beneath the office of President.  Could this be some start to reigning in Trump?  Are the Congressmen finally paying mind to more, shaw we say patriotic matters?