Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Don't blame the group

Don’t blame governments, corporations or religions (i.e. as in the case of the last few days; ISIS) for the actions that appear to come from them.  These organizations don’t speak for everyone in them.  They are not an entity that exists in the real world.  They don’t just magically make things happen.

There are people that believe in the mission statements of these organizations that make things happen.   They sign the executive orders and memos, create the policies, interpret the belief systems, carry out orders and, in some cases, injure and kill innocent people that don’t always share the belief system of organization they are attacking.

Every time we blame a corporation, a government or a religion for actions that harm people we give cover to the people that carryout the actions. In some cases, we make them heroes.  We also justify our own response by punishing, harming and killing all people in the organization staking claim to the evil act regardless of each member’s personal beliefs. 

Action against an organization creates a response of revenge against an organization.

So, next time you want to blame an organization for things that have happen, don’t.  Blame a person.  Seek the individuals that carried out the action.  Punish them.  This will send a message of support to those that don’t share the criminal’s beliefs and warn those that will consider future action that they personally will be sought, will be personally held responsible and they will have no cover.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Deep State Officials

New phrase is creeping into the American Political scene.  DEEP STATE OFFICIALS.

Note the following from The Hill, Friday, May 12, 2017.

“Do we now have to worry about deep state officials that gather intelligence are going to go after Americans and the president (President Trump) politically, or the FBI, some that don't like him might be leaking to hurt this president?,” Sean Hannity, one of Trump’s top boosters in conservative media, asked on his Wednesday night show. [The wording of the question is exactly like it came from Mr. Hannity’s show.]

In the article the term is used many other times by different people, even once by The Hill itself.

This reminds of the many terms used by authoritarian governments that attempt to identify the opposition as evil.

This phrase is worrisome.

We will see where it goes.

Source: http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/333031-trumps-comey-firing-sets-off-new-round-of-leaks

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Trump wants to sue the press for libel

President Trump set up an executive order signing ceremony on Friday.  He was to sign two documents that would make a shift in the trade policies of the United States.  After a brief statement, he walked out of the Oval Office.  He asked (ordered?) Vice President Mike Pence to pick up the folders with the executive orders as the President left the room.

The Vice-President did just that, walking out of the room along with the two guests that were to witness the signing.  Doors closed and the room is empty of officials.  Only the security guards and reporters left.  The reporters asking each other, he didn’t sign, did he?

What just happen?

An article in the New York Times the next day, discussing the orders, implied that the orders were eventually signed, I assume in the room where everyone withdrew to.

The reporters in the room were asking Mr. Trump about former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn’s possible appearance before a congressional committee investigating Mr. Flynn’s and the Trump’s election campaign involvement with the Russians.  (We use that word “Russians” now not as a collective noun as meaning the people of the country and government but more as a personal noun meaning some dark and evil blob like the Smoke Monster in Lost.)  It is for that reason, in my opinion, that Trump left the room.  Trump thought he would teach them a lesson about what he expects when reporters are at events coordinated by him.

Trump is attempting to not only coral the press, but to pull them in line not just with his governmental policies but with his personality.  It can be seen in the way the press secretary treats the press at the daily briefings.  It can be seen the way Trump uses the media that support him.  It can be seen in the way Trump talks about “failing” newspapers, calls much of the press publishing fake news, or the personal attacks on specific reporters that he doesn’t like. 

In a recent Tweet, Trump asked the question, “Change libel laws?”  This was in context with a rant about the New York Times being a disgrace and that they have “Gotten me wrong for two solid years.”  This tweet was not about the President, a title of the office that anyone can hold if elected.  Not about governmental policy and not just about an opinion.  It was about him, Mr. Trump.  He used the word “me”.  Since the Times got “me” wrong for two solid years, he wants to change libel laws to allow him to sue (and jail?) the members of the press for having a different view point.

Let’s make a comparison here.  The NRA does not support anyone that uses a gun to kill innocent people.  (They should take a stronger position on that, but, that is another blog.)  But, every time a mass shooting happens, they stand in support of the Second Amendment.  Additionally, politicians that support gun rights also stand and support a right enshrined in the Constitution and it should not be violated.  During the Presidential election, Trump also support the Second Amendment.  

But, as soon as President Trump is attacked in the press (no one gets killed by the way and is still alive to present their point of view) instead of standing in support of an amendment to the Constitution that came before the gun rights, he wants to change the laws to allow him to sue, punish (and jail?). 

None of this has anything to do with the real issues that are facing our community right now.  Trump may have different opinions from this blogger, but that is part of the benefit of living in a diverse community.  But, when a person in authority is attempting to shut down the vehicle of communicating those diverse opinions and openly discussing the various viewpoints, it short cuts the benefits.   

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Balance of Rights and Responsibilities Leads Us to the Truth

The basic concept of the Responsible Community is balance.  Rights are balanced with responsibility.

Two things over the last few days have driven this point home.  The first was the very high profile Tweet from President Donald Trump.  President Trump said that President Barack Obama tapped the phones of his home in the Trump Tower.   Trump said this happened during the campaign for president.

The is a powerful accusation.  It echoes President Richard Nixon’s 1972 re-election team when they broke into the offices of the Democratic National Committee.  This accusation has been received by both sides dramatically.  The pro Trump group saw it as the truth because they believe President Obama could do such a thing.  The other side is as equally aghast because they know President 
Obama could not do such a thing. 

How are the two sides to be reconciled in a Responsible Community?  By President Trump laying out the evidence that lead him to make the accusation.  President Trump can then deliver the evidence to the Department of Justice to investigate the matter.  After all, President Trump could be right (oh, keep reading liberal friends).  President Obama could have been consumed with power and wanted to help Hillary Clinton.  Or, he could have done it as a sign-off on an investigation by the Department of Justice.  (Remember, the phones of world leaders were tapped by the United States and leaked by WikiLeaks.)

Come forward with more evidence President Trump so your accusations may be evaluated.

The second event that brings the issue of balance to the forefront is much more difficult to find answers to in today’s America, but shouldn’t be.  Khizr Khan, the father of the Captain Humayun Khan who was killed during the Iraq war in 2004, claims his travel privileges are under review by the United States even though he has been an American citizen for 30 years, per reports.  He was to travel to Toronto, Canada to give speech but had to cancel because of the travel review.

Mr. Khan needs to come forward with the events and names of people that have contacted him about the travel review.  The U. S. Customs and Border Protection officials have said that they can’t comment on the issue due to privacy rights.  But, the officials did appear to dispute the report when asked by Politico.  CBP told Politico that travelers are not contacted in advance when leaving the country but must present documents on returning that they should be allow in. (This story is worth watching.  If Khan’s travel is under review and CBP is not investigating, then who is?  Even a more important reason Khan must provide more information.)

If Mr. Khan is indeed under review, evidence must become public.  In this case, if Mr. Khan doesn’t release information about his travel problems, the CBP will not be able to release any information without pressing charges because of privacy issues.  The evidence would then come to light.  (That is, of course, if due process is followed.)

Since the CBP is not likely to release, Mr. Khan needs to release information so your accusations may be evaluated.    

There is the issue.  President Trumps’ accusations about President Obama and Mr. Khan’s accusations about his travel review need to be supported with evidence.  Making accusations in a free and open society is a right we all have.  But, we must be responsible in exercising those rights and support those accusations with evidence. 

We must have balance between rights and responsibilities to find the truth.  Both must release more information.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Classic Economics doesn’t work anymore because a few big players are on the verge of taking control of the markets.  Now, they are planning to take over your government.

The theory of classic economics is that markets work best when they work on their own without influence from the government.  As something goes askew in the market, they correct themselves.  As an example, if too much consolidation of capital takes place, small independent startup companies move in and either take a share of the market or create their own. 

This is the natural way of redistributing income and assets, keeping everything in balance. 

That assumes a set of conditions that allow the markets to respond fluidly and make adjustments necessary to keep things in balance.  One of the conditions is that there are many small players in the market all acting independently.  With many small independent players, no one player can control the entire market. 

Now three things are happening. 

Monopolistic size players, the top 1% of the United States population, are holding a larger share of the private assets and taking a greater share of earnings since the country was created. (2)  In 2007 they held about 35% of the nation’s private assets. (3)  Some sources say the percent held by the top 1% is even greater. (4)  At the current course, the top 1% will own about half of all private assets in just a few years. (3)  Additionally, the top 1% are banking about 25% of all earnings in American, compared to only 9% 25 years ago. (3)  As model of good capitalism, taking 9% of the total earnings doesn’t place the wealthiest people in a controlling position.  At 35%, they are now closing in on controlling the market.

The natural balancing force for the market is showing signs of failure due to the controlling factors of the top 1%.  As stated before, new business startups help keep the accumulation of wealth in check.  As markets grow, new businesses develop.  They begin to pull some of the share of the market away from the larger business. This creates a natural sharing and redistribution of the wealth.

But, if startup growth slows, the large players will continue to grow because of the lack of balance.  To illustrate this point, there has been a thirty-year decline of startup growth.  (This has been happening through Republican and Democrat administrations.)  In 2010 there were about 2.3 million jobs created in the U.S. by startup companies.  For a population of about 308 million, that is about 7.4 jobs per thousand people.  That sounds good until you compared to 1986 when 3 million jobs were created for a population of 240 million.  That equates to 12.5 jobs per thousand people.  That is a drop of about 60% of jobs per thousand people over the decades.

Less startups are creating less jobs for more people.  That is not enough to balance the markets and keep wealth evenly divided.

Finally, the top 1% have created their own “Collective Defense Monopoly” [author’s term] and are now “investing” in the political process to preserve their position.  Jane Mayer, author of Dark Money, states that many of the wealthiest individuals in America are working directly with the Koch brothers and many of their lobby groups to pressure congress and now President Trump to develop legislation that will preserve their wealth and power.  The “investors” have a war chest of approaching $1 billion dollars (or more) to help their cause. (3)  The New York Times reports that Koch spent over $800 million on this last election alone.

Is it getting a return on investment?  It put Trump in the White House and took control of both the House and the Senate.  Additionally, of President Trump’s advisors and cabinet positions are filled with people working closely with the Koch brothers and their many organizations. (A follow up blog that is being researched right now will detail the people working with Trump originate from the Koch brothers and the organizations they support.)

To fight this there are some practical things that can be done.  We as consumers must seek out small businesses in every corner of the market and purchase products and services created locally by small businesses. This will begin to build the assets of small businesses, encourage startups to entire the market and keep dollars in communities that are now being decimated by large corporations.

But, on the government level, we must also develop business policies and systems that create a balance of power in the markets just like America has in government.  We praise at every turn the American system of government that have three branches.  Each branch checks the power of the others and prevents one from dominating.  Then why do we decry the creation of the same kind of controlling forces in business?  We need checks and balances that prevent one business, or in this case, a collective, from dominating the market.  The Dodd Frank act was one way of adding some checks and balances.  But, it is being cancelled by Trump’s executive orders. 

Finally, there needs to be a way to prevent money from dominating politics.  The Koch brothers and their friends through their “Collective Defense Monopoly” raised more than a billion dollars to influence the outcome of the last election. (3) (7) This group of investors only has about 300 members. (7)  That means that each member invested over $3,000,000 each. 

The total money raised for the election for 2016 is estimated to have been about 6.9 billion. (7)  The billion dollars the Collective Defense raised represents 16% of the total money spent on the election.  In perspective, the total population of the United States is about 323,000,000.  That means on average each person in the country spent only $21. 
The Supreme Court has ruled that money is speech.  But speech, in elections, is not free.  It costs money to get the attention of candidates.

How much attention can $21 get compared to $3,000,000?  That isn’t one person, one vote.

(1) Population growth in the United States last 100 years - http://www.multpl.com/united-states-population/table
(2) U.S. Income Inequality: It’s Worse Today Than It Was In 1774 - https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/262537/?client=ms-android-hms-tmobile-us
(3) Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right – Jane Mayer, 
(4) How Unequal We Are: The Top 5 Facts You Should Know About The Wealthiest One Percent Of Americans        - https://www.google.com/amp/s/thinkprogress.org/amp/p/a1d36a0f10f6?client=ms-android-hms-tmobile-us
(5)  The 30-Year Decline of American Entrepreneurship - The Atlantic - https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/09/the-30-year-decline-of-american-entrepreneurship/262831/
(6)  Cost of the election from Open Secrets - https://www.opensecrets.org/overview/cost.php 
How much did Koch spend on 2016 elections - https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/27/us/politics/kochs-plan-to-spend-900-million-on-2016-campaign.html?_r=0

Saturday, September 17, 2016

All of this from just an ordinary guy, a millionaire football player

Recently in the news, a football star by the name of Colin Kaepernick, began making headlines for something other than his football accomplishments.  During the national anthem that start each football game, instead of standing with hand over his heart, he would either remaining seated or took to one knee. 

Kaepernick told the NFL reporting arm in an interview.  Here is a quote from that interview …
"I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color," Kaepernick told NFL Media in an exclusive interview after the game. "To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder."

This raised holy hell with many people on both sides of the political spectrum.  The news media, social media outlets and conversations between friends all thought this was one of the most appalling things anyone could do.  (Well, there is burning the flag and stealing ice cream from a little girl, but I am not sure that is even worse.)

People stand at the playing of the national anthem for many reasons including it is just the customary thing that one does.  But, the reason people are expected to stand is to show respect for the song and the nation.

Many liberals are standing (a pun intended) with Kaepernick.  They support his actions as a way of bringing attention to Kaepernick’s claim of a promise not delivered to many people living in the country.  Conservatives are either mildly sarcastic about Kaepernick or out raged that he could have earned so much from the country and yet show this astonishingly amount of disrespect to the country at the same time. 

Also, recently, a 2-year-old photo of a wheel chaired old man trying to stand as President Obama entered the room surfaced.  President Obama told him he didn’t have to stand.  The old man said, but sir, you are the president.  It is customary for a person to stand when the President of the United States enters the room.  Not necessary for respect of the person, but for the respect of the office.

Again, different comments came from each side of the aisle.  Liberals cheered, expressing their favor of Obama and how we should respect him and the office.  I have heard some say that a few conservatives have said he didn’t have to if he didn’t like the office holder’s politics.

If the reader knows anything about this blog, you will know the blog supports consistency in most every action.  We are to be faulted if actions for one person is allowed and yet not for another, especially based on political view point.

Here is a clear case of in-consistency from the left and maybe the right.  Which is it, I ask, should people follow; custom and show respect or should they be allowed to pick and choose what and who they respect? 

In Kaepernick’s case, the liberals are showing support of the football player’s protest because it is a big theme of the left’s agenda currently.  So, it seems, anything that brings attention to that theme should be supported, regardless of the action.  Even though, standing for the playing of the national anthem has nothing to do with Kaepernick’s reasons for not standing.  It is only a customary action that shows respect for the county, not its politics or actions.

In the old man trying to stand for President Obama, the left; nearly exhausted at having to defend “their” president after being attacked for the entire time he has held office by the right, is showing support for this old man because of his respect for the office, to be read as showing support for Obama.  If this old man didn’t like his politics and didn’t stand would the left still support his right not to stand?

My apologies to the left, but I just don’t think so.

What we have here is the collision of custom and freedom of expression.  As a country we have to ask ourselves which trumps the other.  If we stuck with custom all this time, women would still be home bound and African Americans would still be picking cotton among other customs.  But, in each case, it took someone to break custom; a woman working out side of the home and an African American escaping his kidnappers and seeking freedom; to bring about some kind of change.  In each case the freedom of expression won out and made a better America by breaking with custom.

While I will continue to stand at the playing of the national anthem and I will certainly stand if the President of the United States is present, and especially if it is President Obama, I do support those who wish to break custom to make a personal statement.  Custom is a limiting and socially controlling belief. 

Freedom of expression on the other hand, allows us to find a way to stand on our own.

All of this from just an ordinary guy, a millionaire football player.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The choice is clear

This upcoming presidential election is reinforcing a strong belief that The Responsible Community should not support a personality for the office.  The Community should vote for the issues that best serve the Community.

If the Community was to support a candidate, there would be such trouble.  While no personality is perfect, (Obama is close for me) both are so far off of perfect that they wouldn’t even make the top ten or twenty. 

Hillary Clinton has made so many just pure dumb mistakes in her career that it amazes me.  At the very beginning of her introduction to American politics as first lady, she was under fire.  I don’t know about you, but if I knew people where keeping a very close eye on me, I would do everything close to the book. 

As for Donald Trump, he is the dark side of America.  He uses the people and their thinking of every dark, evil corner to advance his own self.  What is worse, I think, he is not only using the dark side, he also believes in much of it.

So picking the worse of two evils is what many people think this election is all about.  But, if we take the focus off the personalities and look at the parties and their differences, we would get a better picture of how to vote.

There is what is commonly called the left and the right.  On the left we have abortion rights, LBGT rights, marriage equity, religious freedom without religious bigotry, we may have a chance of a strong national health care system, support of unions, a taxation policy that rewards real work and an education system that works for every deserving student.

On the right, we have no abortion rights, no marriage equity, religious bigotry, a gun policy that is out of control, anti-union policies, a return to pure market driven health care, taxation that rewards those that don’t work and an education system that returns to the fifties when only the elite went to school.

During presidential elections, it isn’t just the winner, it is the effect it has on the down ticket candidates.  In many cases, but not all, the winning party improves their standing in the house and the senate. 

With that in mind, if Clinton wins the election, it is likely that more seats will be filled in the house and senate with those that support the issues on the left.  If Trump wins, more seats will be filled by those that support the issue on the right.

To me, it is a simple choice to vote for Clinton.  Not because I support the candidate, but because I support the position that her party takes on the issues that are important to me.