Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Lying


We seem to have a problem . . . one might call it a serious problem.

We have a sitting President who seems rarely to speak the truth. Instead, some estimates suggest that he lies 75% of the time he speaks---75%. That means he rarely tells you something that is factually correct.

He also, perhaps because of his personality disorder, is in the habit of routinely accusing others, his opponents mainly, of committing the sins that he commits routinely. For example, he seems to know that he lies routinely, so, to distract attention from that little problem, he accuses others, again his opponents mainly, of lying. When he called Hillary, “lying Hillary”, or “crooked Hillary”, he was really trying to shift attention away from his common problem, that he lies, and is of a crooked mind.

Now we all assume that politicians tell “porkys”, or that they, at the least, exaggerate.  But with our President, something different seems to happen. He lies, even when it is patently clear to even the most disinterested observer, that he is lying. It was raining, during his inaugural address, yet he asserted that God had cleared the air for him.  He lied about the size of the crowd watching him, even when photo evidence said that the crowd was modest at best compared to the crowd that had watched Obama. He lies about the issue of illegal voters casting votes for Hillary, even though he has no evidence, and all observers tell us there is no such evidence.

He lies about issues such as murder rates, unemployment rates, when we have fairly objective evidence, available to one and all, telling us that he is lying.

So, we have a new bottom line regarding our President. That is:

We cannot trust anything Donald Trump tells us.

Nor can anyone with whom he comes into contact. That would include:

Congress persons,

Judges,

Foreign officials,

Military leaders,

Business leaders.

I failed to mention church leaders, but that seems unimportant, since so many of them no longer tell the truth either.

Now, why is this serious, you might ask? Well, in normal human encounters, we all make certain assumptions about the encounter, assuming it includes some form of human communication.  One assumption is that the people with whom we converse, will communicate most of the time in words that bear some semblance of reality. That is, they will not simply make stuff up out of thin air and pretend they are communicating factually. We might look askance, for example, were we to meet a friend at night, and have him comment on how wonderful the sunshine was at the moment, when in fact there is no sunshine and the night is very dark.  Or should we meet a friend who is 450 pounds, and he comments on how slim he is looking, and would I not agree?

See, I am not talking about opinions, where there is some room for multiple views. No, I mean that there is an objective truth, and the other person denies that obvious truth. That is our President.

So, why is this important?

Well, the President speaks to the people periodically to tell us about the state of some reality—the world, our relative safety, the state of our economy, or the state we observe in the world outside our nation. He “informs” us about those states of reality. And, although, those realities are always subject to multiple opinions, because they are neither black nor white, we need to able to trust that our President will at least approximate the truth of those reality states. That is, even if he shades the truth to one side or the other, he will not simply lie about the truth.  If we cannot trust what he says, then he cannot and must not be our leader. He must be led outside and removed from his high office. Mainly, if you cannot believe what some person tells you, then you cannot have a human relationship with that person.

Again, we know that periodically most folks will tell “porkys”, bend the truth in some way that favors them, or their perspective on something. But most folks do not simply lie about almost everything. Mainly, lying is too burdensome. It requires complex webs of tales that attempt to support the lies, but only make one appear terminally stupid.

So, why would someone, especially someone as public as our President, tell us so many obvious lies? Well, apparently, this is what he has always done, so he simply is continuing his normal pattern of abnormal behavior. But in the past, i.e., before he was President, it mattered less.  Oh, it mattered doubtless to his contractors, when he hired them to do some work, and then, on completion, he simply refused to pay them, inventing some tale about their inadequate work, forcing them to sue him in order to retrieve their money.  But largely, the public was unaware and unharmed by those lies.

He apparently lies, because he is mentally out of touch with reality much of the time.  His reality differs from most of the rest of us.  His friends and associates keep making excuses, telling us that he “believes” things and so speaks according to his altered state of reality belief system.  And we are not to take him literally. We should evidently take him seriously but not literally. Now what in heavens name does that mean?  He says he will act so as to have a wall erected between the USA and Mexico. And we are to deduce that the wall might be a fence, a wall, some other kind of electronic barrier, or maybe just make believe. He says he will Make America Great Again, implying that America is not now great. But he fails to tell us in what way he will make us great again.  He says he will rearm us, return our military to its former great state, instead of whatever pathetic state it is now in.  He says he will abolish “Obama-Care”, but introduce an even greater health care system. His hyperbolic language is so extreme, that it is now the stuff of comedy dreams. Comedians everywhere are being handed a daily dose of comic material such as they could only dream of.

And this pathetic state of affairs has occurred in less than a month. Whatever are we to do for the next four years? 

He has appointed arguably the worst cabinet in the history of our pathetically ungreat nation.  Almost without exception, he has appointed people who are antagonistic to the very purposes of the institutions they will lead.  One can only assume that he intends ridding the nation of Education, Energy, Environmental Protection, Health Research, and health care for the elderly, income assurance/supplementation for the elderly, protection of the working man through labor protections, and the entire judicial system (he does hate those pesky judges always interfering with his whims).

And this is what the entire Republican Party has come to. It is now the pathetic party of Donald Trump and his circus clown car rule. Wouldn’t Lincoln be proud? One might imagine some stirrings of a sense of horror and doom out of at least some of them. But no, they are no longer a party of principles. Instead, they are the great destroyers of a once great nation. 

They cannot even address the relationship between Trump and Vladimir Putin, or even perhaps between Trump and the Russian mafia.  They seem incurious about his tax returns, even while absorbed for years about Hillary’s e-mails. 

Curiouser and curiouser.

What are to make of all this? Well, for one, it seems clear that money has taken over our political system completely. The current party in charge is the best government money can buy—thank you Citizens United.  Thank you Supreme Court.

We can and doubtless should continue to protest the ongoing stupidities perpetuated by Trump, Ryan, Bannon and the rest of his corps of pseudo-Nazi leaders.

We can hope that leakers will continue to leak information being withheld about the inner doings of the Trump carnival or the republican serfs who now serve his purposes, whatever they may be.

Mainly, we will need to work on voting and getting folks out to vote in 2018 and then again in 2020.  Voting is truly our last refuge, assuming republicans do not remove our ability to vote . . . and they will and are trying, since they no longer have any shame.

So, think and work on 2018 and then on 2020, assuming we are not all dead by then.

Til then, continue watching anyone on TV who still is allowed to make fun of our dilemma and of the Drumpf especially. He is a buffoon, and we all need to make sure he realizes that, on a daily basis. Maybe begin to write the Drumpf frequently, telling him that he is a clown. He won’t like that, but it doesn’t matter any longer. He is what he is. Call a clown a clown.

Ta ta . . .

Monday, February 6, 2017

Making America Great Again


So, the Super-Duper Bowl is now ended, and we have witnessed the yugest athletic event in the history of mankind . . . yuger even than the old Olympic events held at Olympia, Greece. As you all know, the Olympic Games were held every four years throughout Classical antiquity, from the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD and they were really Yuge, yuge that is until the Super-Duper Bowl. Olympia was also known for the gigantic ivory and gold statue of Zeus that used to stand there, sculpted by Pheidias, which was named one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World by Antipater of Sidon. We are thinking that now The New England Patriots may well be designated the 11th Wonder of the World (not sure what happened to 8-10).


And President Stupidhead of course held the best ever Super-Duper Bowl party. Since “Madame First-whatever” was present, we can assume his Super-Duper Bowl Game Party was not held in Washington, since it is rumored that Madame will not set foot in Washington, since it clashes with her many ball gowns.  But his party was the Yugest party ever held in any universe. We have been told that even Darth Vader’s Galactic Bowl party was less Yuge.  Although whether that is an Alternative Fact remains to be verified.  By the way, don’t you just love Alternative Facts? That means, we can all say whatever we want, and if we label it as an Alternative Fact, we can’t be held accountable in a court of law. Besides, we now understand that, since President Stupidhead has declared that it is ok to ignore the rule of law, that anyone can now ignore the rule of law and do or say anything we want. That is what Mlle. Conway said isn’t it???


So, the only question remaining in my mind now is, will this ever end??? Well, what the hell is “this” you are thinking.  I am thinking of "this" as the unending stream of stupidities.--the thing that is preventing us from achieving our Greatness again. Perhaps it is simply the Tweeting thing. Tweeting, bound as it is to 140 characters, isn’t exactly the stuff of Shakespeare. I mean, what would the Grand William say, it we limited him to 140 characters.  


To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep (
oops, out of room here, so Willy would need a second Tweet)


No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
the heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
that Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; aye, there's the rub,
for in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
when we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
must give us pause. There's the respect

(oops, there we go again . . .)

that makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,
the Oppressor's wrong, the proud man's Contumely, [F: poor]
the pangs of despised Love, the Law’s delay, [F: disprized]
the insolence of Office, and the spurns
that patient merit of the unworthy takes,
when he himself might his Quietus make
with a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardels bear, [F: these Fardels]
to grunt and sweat under a weary life,
but that the dread of something after death,
the undiscovered country, from whose bourn
no traveller returns, puzzles the will,
and makes us rather bear those ills we have,
than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus conscience does make cowards of us all,
and thus the native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o'er, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pitch and moment, [F: pith]
with this regard their Currents turn awry, [F: away]
And lose the name of Action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy Orisons
Be all my sins remember'd.”



So, you get the point. President Stupidhead is automatically limiting himself to the banal commentary. He will never get any points for being, say, thoughtful, although to be fair, I doubt that anyone has ever referred to the man as thoughtful.  But, who’s to know? Maybe a couple of weeks from now, he will tire of appearing to the World as President Stupidhead and will wish to take on the mantle of President Thoughtful.  See, it all depends on which particular 140 character sets he is taking in at the moment.  So, maybe if he sees a different set of characters, he might wish to change his ways.

And what might that mean?

Well, perhaps he might begin by writing longer pieces, perhaps for his talks, and maybe even for his  discussions with foreign leaders. It is said that he will not now be invited to speak before the UK Parliament.  He is seen, evidently, as a racist and sexist. Maybe if he writes something thoughtful he could retrieve his now lost status as a person of some gravitas. Maybe then, we The American People could be seen once again as a thoughtful people, whom other cultures would wish to know.

That would be a helpful start, because I fear that collectively, we are all viewed through the prism of President Stupidhead’s 140 character tweets.  It is not simply who he is. It is, rather, who we are, and we must never lose sight of that important distinction.

So, perhaps we collectively need to begin a process of healing ourselves, by giving to our great leader (the greatest leader in the history of the world) a grander sense of who he is in the world. He is better than 140 characters.  He needs to know that.



Or maybe not . . .

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Managing Effective Organizations


Managing Effective Organizations

Many people who decry government, really government at all levels, claim that government is:

a.       Inefficient and therefore a waste of taxpayer money;

b.      Overly intrusive into the lives of ordinary citizens; and

c.       Ineffective, i.e., they never achieve their stated goals.

So, these voter-folks cast their precious ballots to elect people who espouse similar views, e.g., the Donald Trumps of the world. And the Donald Trumps of the world promise to reduce the size of government, its cost burden, and simultaneously, to make government work for all citizens.

Permit me to clarify my own views and how those views were formed; During my approximately 60 year working career, I worked for:

a.       large for-profit corporations—Firestone Guided Missile Division and Lockheed Missiles and Space Company as an engineer working on nuclear missile design and development;

b.      small-medium for-profit companies—management consulting at Management Systems Corporation and Peat, Marwick, Livingston (now KPMG), Practical Concepts, Inc., all carrying out program design and evaluation studies, both on aerospace projects, and later on public health systems;

c.       medium non-profit research at The Urban Institute, carrying out program evaluation studies;

d.      Large, i.e., Federal, government while working at the then Department of Health, Education & Welfare under both Presidents Carter and Reagan, running an evaluation office carrying out evaluation studies of public programs, mainly health related;

e.      And finally, my own nominally for-profit management consulting company carrying out studies in strategic planning, and program evaluation.

One of the many lessons I derived from this long working experience is that organizational size matters. That is, large, for-profit corporations resemble large government in many ways. They are equally bureaucratic, both share the same range of executive competence, both have dedicated and “casual” employees. So a large corporate entity can be compared with a federal government agency and you will find many shared characteristics.

There is also, obviously, a relatively large difference between the for-profit and not-for-profit world of corporate entities.  One could say, again obviously, that in one case the for-profit company seeks to maximize profit as its end game, while the other seeks to maximize its impact on its mission.  That distinction can reveal itself in many ways, some that we might view as undesirable, as for example when a Donald trump refuses to pay his  contractors and staff, thereby boosting his bottom line, or when a large banking entity decides to launder drug monies and establish offshore (i.e., untaxable) accounts for gangster drug lords.

Now consider the subject of high-level recruitment of executive staff for these varied organizations. One might assume that rational beings would always look for the most competent individuals to run organizations of any size, whether for-profit or other. On average, that assumption proves true, despite much evidence that we do not always succeed.  Many people believe, for example, that Carly Fiorina was a disaster as CEO of Hewlett Packard. Some arguably would disagree.

But few will argue openly that we would ever consider hiring someone who is basically antagonistic to the central mission and purposes of the entity they would manage.  For example, would you ever hire a global bank CEO who is antagonistic to the global banking end game? Someone, for example, who believed that global banks should be broken up because they are simply too large and counterproductive to world order? I think not.

So, why would we consider hiring people into the highest levels of government who are antagonistic to the central purposes of the agencies they will manage?

I am thinking here of Donald Trump’s list of cabinet appointments. Let’s look at one potential appointee: Betsy Devos to be Cabinet Secretary of Education.  Devos has zero experience running any large entities and, after inheriting her megamillions, has served as an advocate for the privatization of the country’s public school system. Neither she nor her children have ever attended public school and she advocates for what is called “school choice”, which seems to mean using public tax monies to finance private schools which are then largely unaccountable to the public.  According to Wikipedia:

DeVos is a member of the Republican Party known for her advocacy of school choice, voucher programs, and ties to the Reformed Christian community. She was Republican National Committeewoman for Michigan from 1992 to 1997 and served as chairwoman of the Michigan Republican Party from 1996 to 2000, with reelection to the post in 2003. DeVos has been a defender of the Detroit charter school system and she is a member of the board of the Foundation for Excellence in Education. She has served as chairwoman of the board of Alliance for School Choice and heads the All Children Matter PAC. DeVos is married to Dick DeVos, the former CEO of multi-level marketing company Amway, and is the daughter-in-law of billionaire and Amway co-founder Richard DeVos. Her brother, Erik Prince, a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer, is the founder of Blackwater USA.”

One can argue whether charter schools have been successful or not, and there is some considerable evidence they have been less than compelling, but it still seems at best odd that we would want Mrs. Devos to run a public education system with which she fundamentally disagrees.  She is a contradiction in terms as a Department of Education CEO.

Clearly, our elected representatives need to eliminate Mrs. Devos as a candidate for that position. Our children need and deserve an advocate for high quality, publically accountable, public education.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Let the Games Begin


In a recent New York Times article, actual Trump supporters, women in this case, were quoted as stating the following. I have combined into one segment the several views of the women interviewed:

“I voted for Trump because I wanted change. I feel like our economy has totally tanked. People do not have disposable income. I feel the last eight years have been a joke. Obama was out for himself. I don’t think he really respected the office. I think it was more about him being a celebrity than a president”.  -- Obama was out for himself . . . it was more about him being a celebrity than a president? And you weren’t speaking of the definitive celebrity, Donald Trump, but of President Obama???

Trump’s a successful businessman, and I feel like that’s what America needs to bring our economy back. I don’t think Donald Trump is really Republican, to be quite honest with you. He’s not in a box. One of the most attractive things to me is he can’t be boxed. He wants to bring America back to what it was before. I don’t think it’s taking us back to women have no rights or slavery days. – Trump is almost the definitive unsuccessful businessman. He has had, I believe six bankruptcies. He does not pay the people, both staff and contractors, who work for him. Many/most of the things that bear his name are not produced by him. He engages in fraud, such as Trump University.  And he consistently indicates that he does not care about anyone but himself.

When Trump became my only choice, I felt he was the lesser of two evils. I had major issues with Hillary as far as ethics was concerned. It seems she feels that she is above the law and nothing ever seems to stick. I didn’t particularly like everything he was saying as far as building a wall, and doing this to immigrants. I looked at that more as bravado, his audience needed that to get the applause. – It is interesting to note how the Republican Party, Trump especially, laid on an image of Hillary that was almost wholly false.  People had issues with Hillary regarding her ethics?  And this Trump supporter had no trouble with Trump’s ethics? Really?

But there are allegations about killing people who get in her way — Vince Foster, people like that. Someone who has a big bravado is not as concerning to me as someone who might kill people who get in her way. – Another entirely fabricated event—the killing of Vince Foster, attributed incorrectly to Hillary so as to paint her as beyond all bounds of decency.  Foster committed suicide, and many subsequent investigations reached the same conclusion. Yet, the folks who hate Hillary (and Bill) continued to assign her at least partial blame, with absolutely no evidence. But when did Hillary-haters need facts to back up their cause?

I felt he had what it would take to get the country back on track. Being P.C. was going to kill the country. He speaks his mind and because of that, he’s not going to lie to you. I don’t want immigrants, accepting them without doing the background checks. I don’t want to live in a country where we have to worry about going to the movie theater or the mall. Let’s be on the offensive, versus the defensive.” – Really, Trump won’t lie to you? How do you know Trump is lying? Well, whenever he opens his mouth and words come tumbling out, he is lying.  Trump is afflicted with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, as well as a Sociopathic Personality Disorder. Folks like him lie all the time. And he has been lying to us throughout his campaign, and he will continue to lie throughout his administration, until he gets impeached.  But that assertion has been well documented throughout the campaign, so it is not exactly a hidden story about the man.  So, to reject Hillary and accept Trump on the basis of which one lies is so absurd that it beggars belief.

So, really . . . actual sentient humans said those things?  

The last 8 years has been a joke?

Trump is the “lesser of two evils”?

This leads me to consider whether we are dealing with some form of cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive Dissonance -- In psychology, cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time; performs an action that is contradictory to their beliefs, ideas, or values; or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas or values.                                        

Dissonance is felt when people are confronted with information that is inconsistent with their beliefs. If the dissonance is not reduced by changing one's belief, the dissonance can result in restoring consonance through misperception, rejection or refutation of the information, seeking support from others who share the beliefs, and attempting to persuade others.

This describes almost perfectly what we can observe with Trump and his supporters throughout the campaign and subsequent to his victory via the Electoral College. All contrary views, regardless of their source, are rejected, and bubbles are formed around the supporters so they will receive nothing but supportive views about Trump.  And it is what Trump thrives on as a way of coping with his environment.

But why would folks follow down that path?

Because they’re racist or misogynist? Well, doubtless, some of his supporters deserve those labels, but perhaps not all.  That he still retains about 37% support suggests that something else is afoot within our population.

I think that we have a sizable population that has, a) been ignored for decades now, and b) finally heard someone call out to them in their perceived hour of need. The population believes itself to have been abandoned by our political system, while simultaneously being screwed out of life by people in power—mainly industrialists, bankers, and even, the government.  But note, please, that many people confuse the government with the industrialists when assigning blame for their personal plight.

And what is that plight you might ask? Well, their economic outlook is in the toilet, and many cannot make ends meet.  Coal miners would be a prime example. Mines are closing and have closed, and, often, coal miners have no alternatives. They are undereducated, having learned their trade on the job. Miners are similar to the mill workers of old, who complete a modest level of education, then go immediately into their trade. In olden times, the companies actually built homes, schools, and stores, so the workers were almost literally surrounded by the company for their entire lives, and then their kids would take their places.  You can find many similar examples throughout US industries, including the automobile industry. One can imagine that, even high tech would give rise to similar situations. The key is that the workers, however skilled they become at their chosen trade, acquire no flexibility when presented with an end to their particular jobs, as companies close, or shift their production to regions with lower wage levels.

And why do companies shift production to other lower wage regions? Well, they have to compete with other countries with lower levels of income. The companies must either become more productive, through such approaches as automation, or more simply by moving their means of production to low wage regions.  Note, even if the companies adopt more productive means of production, e.g., automation, the workers will still lose their jobs.

A solution to such problems might be to re-educate the workers in some other field wherein they might become more employable.  When the old Cannon/Pillowtex mills closed in Kannapolis, NC, for example, workers were offered a chance to obtain education/training in another field.  The problem with that solution is that many workers are middle aged and have no interest/capacity to undergo such training to retrofit their lives to the new environment.

So, we are left with an increasing population of workers who are unemployed and often unemployable.  Those workers will become bitter over time and look to officialdom for rescue.  When no rescue is forthcoming, they will become desperately unhappy and will continue to look for someone to blame.

As unions shrink in size and importance, union jobs also shrink in size and importance. The formerly union workers will continue to look for solutions from “officialdom”. Finding none, they will also be separated from the economy and will be angry.

Now, these folks will provide a ready audience for any political demagogue—see Donald Trump.

But we have in America an even larger audience for such demagogues. For example, almost immediately after Barack Obama was elected, the “Tea Party” was formed with support from people such as the Koch Brothers.  It now seems clear that the Tea Party really is the KKK wing of the Republican Party. So, we have a core of folks who might fit the racist label.

We also seem to have a large group who really, really dislike Hillary. Some women, for example, never forgave Hillary for staying with Bill after he rather publically managed to obtain a blowjob in the oval office, while eating a pizza and talking on the phone.  So, Hillary is forever a lost cause to that group. And they, apparently do not care what Trump does and says he does. And they also do not care that Trump has been married three times.

So, when you add up the pile of disaffected voters, they apparently give you that 37% who continue to support him, despite his deplorable record and behavior.  Now, whether that group will desert him as he continues to lie to them and fails to deliver on his promises is a question that is open at the moment. But, having committed themselves to this weird course, I would predict that they will allow him to lie in his defense, and to lay the blame for his failures at other doorsteps.

So, let the games begin. And may the worst of outcomes be avoided, although, at this stage, I cannot see how that might happen.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Minyan for a Grassroots Movement


Interesting life stage. No, not the current mess outside . . . all that ice covered with snow. No, I mean our mess just beginning in Washington. And the Drumpf isn’t even yet on board.  But his various swamp creatures, Paul Ryan, et al, are already hard at work dismantling what is left of the Great Society legacy of FDR and his followers.
Right out of the box, of course is the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). It will be replaced, I understand, with Trumpcare. What is Trumpcare you might ask? Well, Trumpcare is a promise to provide health care at some future stage, currently undefined to all those 20+ million folks who signed up for Obamacare. They won’t have any health care protection for a while, but hey, they didn’t have any before Obamacare kicked in either.  So, what’s the big deal? You must understand that the Drumpf first has to build his wall that the Mexicans are going to pay for (hahahahahahahahaha).  Oh, and while he is killing Obamacare, he plans to defund the Planned Parenthood clinics, through which a lot of folks get their prenatal care and cancer screenings. Republicans really hate it when all those folks get health care.
But Paul Ryan is a big thinker. He’s after way more than Obamacare. He wants to kill Medicare, Social Security and Medicaid, and thinks he has them in his sights.  It is not yet clear how he plans to disenfranchise the many millions who currently collect from Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Paul Ryan is a big thinker, but he doesn’t seem to be real accomplished at actually doing anything.  On Medicare, and perhaps even Medicaid, we think he wants to give folks vouchers to buy health care from your friendly neighborhood health insurance company—makes me wonder whether Paulie has his stock portfolio chocker-block full of private insurance company stocks.  A voucher. Yeah, that’s what we need . . . a voucher.  No rules of engagement. Just a voucher and a note saying, “Good luck, Paulie”.
Social Security is a bit tougher. I mean, how does he replace automatic payments each month from the government? Maybe, a voucher with a note saying, “we’re giving you discount coupons to WalMart.”
But then on other fronts, the republicans also seem to want to kill public education. And guess what, there too, they want to give folks vouchers to just go buy education for your kids.  A little unclear just why they dislike public education . . . maybe because it’s . . . public. They do seem to hate everything associated with Government, aside from, of course, themselves.  So, bye bye public education.  Oh, and then there’s that relationship between education levels and voters who support democrats.  Can’t have that.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch (Washington, DC) we still await the arrival of the new first family—the Drumpf and his daughter (surrogate first lady). I guess Melania will stay in New York, while Ivanka helps daddy-poo entertain all those important people. I guess Ivanka speaks English, so she’s less likely to embarrass her daddy-poo. Maybe Melania will oversee The Trump Towerland, while Daddy and Ivanka oversee the real action. One of the guys will meanwhile hold down the fort at Maralago, entertaining all of daddy’s Russian lenders, who seem to be manifold. Can’t have all those Russian and Chinese “investors” unhappy, can we?
All that makes me wonder where Vlad the Impaler will house his KGB-US headquarters.  Probably New York, but Maralago would make for relatively easier coming and going by submarine, wouldn’t it? Oh, it’s all going to be so entertaining, until someone shuts it all down, and we all enter the collective global toilet. But, until then, have fun folks.
On the subject of what to do, what to do, a dear friend came up with an idea. Barbara Thiede, a writer for our local newspaper, and a rabbi has come up with an idea she is calling Minyans for a Grassroots Movement. What is a Minyan, you might ask? Well, in the Jewish tradition, a Minyan is a group of at least ten folks who would form a quorum needed to say prayers. So, on this political front, the idea would be to gather a small group to send messages—phone calls, mail, e-mails—to our local, state and National political representatives on specific issues of concern. If any of the ten decide to prepare a message, they will send that message to each member of the Minyan. The members can then decide to write something similar, or cut and paste a supportive message. Then if each member sends that message to friends, the friends can also become supportive members, and so on.
The central idea is to get as many people as possible writing, or calling legislative representatives, whether those reps are of the same or different political persuasion. If your reps, like ours, are to the right of Atilla the Hun, they still need to hear from constituents, otherwise they will imagine they are acting with the complicit support of their voters.  Don’t let them think that.
So, that’s the message for the day.
Write or call your elected representatives. Do it often. Let them know how you feel about what they are doing or thinking of doing. Just do it.
Here is at least a starting list of elected representatives' contact information.

NORTH CAROLINA legislature:
Paul Newton = State Senator

Some House representatives:


US House & Senate:

Thom Tillis
202-224-6342

Richard Burr (US Senate)
202-224-3154

Richard Hudson ( US House, district 8 in NC)
202-225-3715

Robert Pittenger (US House District 9)
202-225-1976

Ta ta . . .

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016


2016

I keep wondering. Have I ever seen a year like this?  And the answer is, hmmm . . . Yes, of course.

                .               Famous folks died . . . think 1963

                .               economic screw-up . . . think 1929, or 2000, or 2008

.            world in a mess . . . well, when wasn’t it? In my brief time on this spinning globe, we have had the Great Depression, WW II, the Korean “police action”, Vietnam, 9/11, and every year since

.            a screwed up election . . . hmmmm . . . maybe there you have something different.  I am told that the Rutherford Hayes election of 1876 bore some similarity in terms of corruption and awful characters. Samuel Tilden won the popular vote handily, but lost in a disputed recount process that awarded the needed electoral votes to the republican Hayes . . . hmmm . . . sound familiar?

.            And then there was that election in 2000. Remember that one, where Florida votes had to be hand tallied, but then our most corrupt justice in history, Tony Scalia, basically intervened to award the presidency to George W. Bush. Remember him? And that worked out so well, didn’t it? But still, the 2016 election is a standout. Not only did the Drumpf lose the national vote-count, but he seems not to understand what he actually has won. He may be our only President who can’t read.

So perhaps 2016 will go down in history as one of our more memorable years, maybe on its own merits, but more likely based on the likely disasters that will follow on the heels of electing the least qualified person in American history to the most important job our nation has on its books.

Now, to be fair, we still await the outcomes in his presidency. So, I may be writing a different kind of message at the end of 2017, assuming it is still legal to write about President Drumpf. And always assuming that our president does not start WW IV, the “war to end all wars” because it eliminates humankind. So, we will just have to wait and see what our “enfant-terrible” has in store for those of us who did not actually vote for him (a majority of voting Americans as it turns out).

So, bring it on 2017. We await your pleasure . . . or whatever the hell you actually deliver.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Electoral College Has Spoken


So, it’s official. We have formally elected a deeply flawed and apparently amoral man to be President of our United States. One person with whom I am “friends” on Facebook posted a piece suggesting that, with the election of Donald Trump, God had answered the prayers of the Christian Faithful. And I thought, “Really, your concept of your God is that he decided that a narcissistic-sociopathic, congenital liar, and sexual predator who is incapable of ingesting written information so as to inform himself about the world, and who has been consistently a failure at virtually everything he decided to “manage”, should now be the leader of the Free World?  Wow, what a statement about your God.  See that might describe the actions of a “Satan", rather than a “God”.

But, let’s be rational, folks. My thought for the day is, the US election is the final proof that, either there is no God, or if one exists, She really does not care about or act upon the affairs of humankind. What more do we need to know . . . nothing to see here folks, move along . . .

And if that is true, as surely it must be, then why are we here at all?

Well, if we were not here, how could we eat snickerdoodles at Christmas time, or enjoy a cool brew from the Cabarrus Brewing Company? See what we would be missing? Oh, but I get your question . . . you mean, why are we anywhere?

Well, I guess there are two views on that subject. One view is that God waggled his/her finger and poof, we are all here. I know, I know, that’s really silly. But then there is the view that we are here because life exists everywhere, and if life exists everywhere, then why not here, and why not us? See, it could be simply random creativity, acting over billions of years on millions of floating rocks that are attracted to fiery things we call suns, or stars. And given enough millennia on all those floating rocks, we are as likely to emerge as a monarch butterfly. Turns out anything is equally plausible.  See, I could as easily have turned out to be a dragonfly. But I didn’t . . . maybe in a past life?

Ok, so we’re here. Now how does that explain the Donald?

Well, here’s where the randomness thing enters this equation. Turns out not all creatures are created equal after all. Our brains are wired differently, partly due to our genes, and partly due to simple variations on a theme. Some folks are darker in skin tone than other folks. Some have blond hair, while others have black hair. Who knew? And internally, even more variation shows up.  Some people seem programmed to prefer calculus to surfboarding. Some folks look up at the sky and wonder why . . . while others look at the sky and run for the UV blocking crème.  Even funnier, some folks turn out to be guys, some are gals, and some are both or partly this and partly that. Some resemble guys, but are really gals, and vice versa. See, it’s all just variations on a theme, and if you keep producing variations for enough millennia, you get a lot of really different things and folks.

Think. Over time, that variation machine produced Julius Caesar, Jesus Christ, William Shakespeare, Adolph Hitler, that Mussolini dude, Adlai Stevenson, Franklin Roosevelt, Jack Benny, and even Donald Trump.  So, the Donald ain’t all that unusual. Many dudes are similar to him, as it turns out, but most fade into oblivion because they aren’t born into extreme wealth and a racist family.

Now, it’s also the case that most of the Donald Trumps of the world don’t come into great power, including the many dudes who have his deep flaws. Mainly, I guess we can blame his money which, when combined with his character flaws led him to become a kind of silly television actor. Well, actor is the wrong term and insults all real actors.  Apparently, “reality TV stars” are not real actors, although they employ the same kind of public venue.

See here we have another variation on a theme, produced by our perpetual variation machine—a personality warped by whatever produces narcissism, sociopathy, ADHD, and then further warped by exposure to unlimited amounts of personal money, and then finally to unlimited exposure to millions of fans on TV, producing . . . MonsterMan. This particular personality disordered creature seems to fail at anything it tries to actually “manage”, but seems successful at appearing in public in front of large audiences and insulting people.  He/it is really good at that game. Just don’t let him be “in charge” of anything.

So, see, that God thingy did not have to have anything to do with producing the Trumpster. He’s just another variation on a theme, however unlikely it might seem. I mean, who would have predicted Adolph Hitler? Happily, for all of us ordinary dudes and dudettes, the rules of chance seem to favor producing more Gandhi’s or Churchill’s, than Hitler’s or Trumps.

So, in this season of supposed good will, we ought to try and act like it, at least towards our family and folks we think of as friends. Try to smile and think happy thoughts, especially toward those who might be less fortunate than we are.  Sharing some of our good fortune with others seems a nice thing to do, regardless of our dark thoughts about The Drumpf.

And then, after the season of good cheer, begin thinking and even acting so as to rid the nation of the influence of the Donald. We’re stuck with him and his companions in evil for a while, but we need to begin working on getting rid of them . . . legally and peacefully.

So, smile for a while, and then get serious.  This Nation has not yet run out of smart, caring people who are willing to seek public office. Look around. They will appear.

Happy holidays folks.