Archive for May 2016

The News Manufacturing the News

Bernie folks are rioting in Las Vegas throwing chairs, blah blah, blah.  Not really. Here is a fact check of that night:

And while the chaos and ensuing death threats are indisputable, the chair throwing seems to be exaggerated, if not entirely fiction, according to a report by Snopes, a rumor-busting website.

The report says initial reports about the chair throw came from local journalist Jon Ralston, who live-tweeted events as they occurred at the convention. Ralston did not live-tweet about the chairs being thrown, but tweeted after the convention that it did happen.

In a related story on Rachel Maddow tonight, Steve Kornacki, gave us a really good comparison of all the doom and gloom Hillary supporters are spewing (along with pundits) about Bernie staying in the race, and turns out the circumstances and tactics were almost identical by Hillary and complained about by Barrack supporters.  My point is very simple:  The news is not only not informing us, but by emphazing the outlandish, they make it more outlanddish and give us a very distorted view of what is really going on.  They leap on every “the sky is falling” story and make it into the universe is collaspsing and in reality, we have very little sense of what is really happening.

For the Bernie-Hillary thing, here is what I think.  Hillary will be the nominee barring any unknown catastrophe.  Bernie will push Hillary left and she will add a real progressive as her VP.  She will win by a landslide as the Donald self destructs and people finally see through his bluster.  Republicans will be “united behind Trump” until they get in the voting booth and not tell anyone they voted for someone else.  Demos will get behind Hillary and we will at least take back the Senate.  That doesn’t mean it won’t be a fight and we need to fight it, but that will be the final outcome.  Oh, and then the Republicans will convene another post-mortem still not understanding anything about the fact that their basic economic ideology doesn’t appeal to anyone but the 1%.  And of course they will have to be more inclusive of “others”.

In the meantime here is what they are not covering:

  • Did you know that there were 68 shootings in Chicago over the weekend?  I guess that says we ought to arm more people to defend themselves, right? Or does it say too many people have guns?
  • 1000 immigrants died last month trying to flee the Middle East and Africa, but most Americans have their shorts in a knot over shooting one Gorilla in Cincinnati.  Tragic, but if you know the facts, unavoidable.  Oh, and for all you peanut brains that want to blame the Mom, have you never turned around and your child has run amok?
  • One had to work really hard at channel surfing to get any real reports of the flooding in Texas and where.  Does the news think Texas is a small place?  And it was 101º in Sacramento today, but we don’t need to be worried.
  • We all saw how mad Trump was at the press “snooping” into his veteran donations, but who pointed out he made it a political issue and isn’t the press just doing their job checking on the accuracy?  Who is pointing out that most of those claimed contributions were made after he got called on it?  Isn’t that what the press is supposed to do?
  • Did you know that Rio is a mess, mass gang killings are going on, and of course this is ground zero for the Zika Virus, but the games must go on there, right?
  • Are you wondering how the fight against ISIS is going and if they are close to taking Falluja and Raqqa are going?  Me too.

You know there is a lot going on in the world that would put perspective on our little issues, but we never get to hear about them while the press distorts political news for entertainment value.  Okay distort is a little strong.  How about over emphasizes political conflict and hammers the same stories 24/7 while much more important stories go unreported?  It is a wonder we know anything.

Should Bernie Quit?

California Senator Diane Feinstein Indicated that Bernie ought to throw in the towel and unite the party:

“It would be, I think, a very positive gesture for reconciliation if Senator Sanders were to consider putting his campaign in the very real perspective that it’s in, and doing those things that can bring the party together,” Feinstein said. “I think the nation is better off if that were to happen.”

After all he got people on the platform committee, so what is there to gain?  Senator Feinstein is the ultimate establishment Democrat.  She clearly is a moderate Democrat in the mold of moderate Republicans 30 years ago.  She was just socially progressive so the Republicans had no room for her.  She represents the thinking of many Democrats that it is time to get back to normal, rally around Hillary, and defeat the Donald.  Except we don’t live in normal times as evidenced by both Bernie and the Donald’s success.  Getting back to normal is what many are voting against in this election.

I have struggled with this one myself, because a Trump Presidency is unthinkable.  We had hoped the Republicans would show some ideological purity and reject him, but as we suspected, they are in love with power more than ideology.  As they have sold their soul to their ideology, so they have relinquished their morality to power.  While a Trump Presidency is unthinkable and truly damaging to the nation and maybe the world, in the perspective of a Republican, Hillary may make them grind their teeth, but she would not take the country off a cliff.  Hopefully that recognition will finally doom Trump even though Republicans will never admit they voted for Hillary, but back to the Bernie thing.

What I think we are seeing in this election is what happens when the conventional wisdom (CW) is no longer operative, and we are approaching that moment when it is about to collapse and a new CW is going to take its place, we are in denial.  The old CW was that Democrats have fought hard for the little guy (they have sort of) and that if we just get more of them in there, what we have been doing is on the right track.  The new CW is that Democrats are part of the problem in a political system too controlled by money in politics to make the real changes necessary to change the system.

So what goes on in my mind is should Bernie back off and we continue with the old CW and hope for the best or should Bernie keep pressuring the Democrats to make some fundamental changes even if he is not the nominee?  Let’s face it, Bernie has been right about a lot of things.  You could start with the nomination system is rigged.  It is badly in need of reform and I have seen no real commitment on the Democrat’s part to reform it.  Next you could say he has made a giant point about money in politics and how can you change the system when you continue to depend upon that money to keep you in office. His focus on economic inequality and the real changes that have to be made instead of the incremental status quo of the old CW, has excited a lot of people.

And if you want a real example where he is pushing Democrats to think outside the box, it is about Israel. Let’s face it, Netanyahu is taking them off a right-wing cliff.  Democrats also speak in codes and use dog whistles when it comes to Israel and our unqualified support.  Bernie, a Jew, is now questioning that raising issues about Palestinian rights and a meaningful two state solution.  Netanyahu is moving the state toward a one state solution with Palestinians having no rights.  We can’t be unequivocal about supporting that Israel.  And Bernie is making Democrats face that and they are terrified their dog whistle to Jews will be stolen by Republicans.  But are we moral or not?

So with all the attendant risks of having Bernie continue, we will be a better country in the long run, and his constant pushing may just make the Democratic Party viable in the future. So stay in there Bernie and keep pushing.  It is worth the risk if the alternative is to be an irrelevant party.

Oh, and just as an aside, we in California have a right to make our voices heard, not have establishment Democrats decide how we should vote.  You know, the South voted for Hillary which was Bernie’s undoing, but do you think any of those states that make Hillary the candidate will vote blue in the fall? Nope.  Meanwhile the 13th largest economy in the world is asked to take a pass if Bernie gets out.  I don’t think so.

What Do I Think They Are All Missing?

Two things, really:  Global Warming is a national emergency on a global scale; and the economy doesn’t work the way the majority of people assume it works any more (economic inequality is the result).  That is it in a nutshell.

On the first one, to say that is described by many as “alarmist,” but it isn’t.  We are facing a climate and ecological disaster that will have far-reaching impacts both on our economy and on foreign relations.  The models that are predicting it keep having to be updated as the trends accelerate faster than the models predicted.  The data is now overwhelming, but its threat is not at “the gate” (Barbarians at the gate) yet so we have a whole segment of our society that denies it.  They have to because they don’t think government should do big stuff, and this threat requires really big stuff.

Second, and what most partisanship is about, is how the economy works.  We have had this model that says if businesses thrive, all of us do.  So far so good.  Now we get into the great divide.  Basically the majority of Americans are fiscally conservative, that governments should do little (little spending) and with less regulation and low taxes businesses will in fact thrive.  There were environments where that worked, but it depends on one other important factor, demand.  After WWII, we had pent-up demand, income and savings to support it, and an economy ready to transition from a war machine to a domestic machine.  We invested (G.I. Bill) in education and we took off.

The trouble is we don’t live in that world anymore. We don’t have pent-up demand in the form of disposable cash to support spending.  We live in a world where jobs are being offshored that decreases domestic income and spending power.  And finally, more and more of what we do earn stays with the very rich (economic inequality).  Is that the fault of the world economy?  Maybe partially, but it is reality and you can’t shut it out.

So as domestic consumption, especially in the middle class, stagnates, investment moves overseas to wherever markets exist, and competition for competing goods drives labor markets also overseas to find the lowest labor costs.  Couple all that with the failure of government to invest in our own infrastructure and people (cutting government spending), has created an economy that doesn’t operate any longer by normal rules.

We have built an economic system through rules, regulations, trade agreements, copy rights and intellectual property laws, lack of support for unions, and a stagnating minimum wage that favor wealth accumulation for the few assuming it will flow down, and it does not.  So domestic demand has shriveled.  Now come our economic assumptions:  If we just lower the interest rate, business will borrow and invest, jobs will be created, and we will all thrive.

Except it hasn’t worked.  Interest rates are at record lows and businesses are not making the projected investments.  They are already cash rich, but they don’t see the demand, at least domestically, to support expanding.  It isn’t about confidence, government regulation, or low taxes, it is about whether there is sufficient pent-up demand (and spending to support it) to expand.  Their answer: No.

So the next thing the Fed did was “print” money.  They created additional money supply to buy back some of their loans.  Conservatives told us the interest rate would go out of sight.  It did not.  So we have very low interest rates, more money put into the system, no inflation, no soaring interest rates, and the economy remains sluggish.  Say what?  The Fed wants to raise interest rates because they feel the unemployment rate now supports it and they want to head off inflation.  What inflation?

Inflation happens when too many people are trying to buy not enough things and prices rise. Or there is not enough labor for jobs and wages rise. Neither has happened. In fact a little inflation would help us because it would force businesses to quit hanging on to cash and invest it.  Bottom line, the economy is not working they way we assume anymore but we keep doing the same counter productive things assuming it is.

The good news is that both of our critical issues , global warming and the economy (economic inequality), can be solved by the one thing we absolutely refuse to do:  Spend to create demand.  Long story short, we invest massively in infrastructure upgrades including necessary mitigation measures for global warming effects, and in R&D to transfer us off of carbon based fuels.  Combined with that we revise tax codes, regulations and all the stuff listed above to make sure that there is a fair sharing of GDP increases.

We incentivize investments in production and new facilities and de-incentivize investments in financial instruments.  This then provides good jobs that increases domestic demand and the multiplication factor throughout the economy has been estimated at about 1.5.  For every dollar the government spends you get about $1.5 in economic activity. Note that it works in reverse.  For every $1 cut from federal spending, you lose about $1.5 in economic activity.

Where does the money come from? We borrow it because interest rates are so low that when you factor in what inflation there is, it is free money.  Won’t that balloon our debt and then we are in big trouble right?  Define trouble.  We have been scared shitless by debt rhetoric that has no basis in reality.  Debt becomes a problem when no one will loan to us and interest rates rise.  But we can print money to pay it off or invest it directly.  Then inflation might occur and our dollar would be worth less, right?  Well a little inflation would also be good for exports and they make our goods cheaper while making foreign ones more expensive.  So buy domestic.  The reality is we have seen neither effect in this new economy and until we do, we are shooting ourselves in the foot heading off a phantom problem.

If our economy takes off as many of us think it will, this will increase tax revenues and decrease the impact of deficit spending.  And it not just spending, it is spending for stuff we need for the future.  In good times, the return on investment could just help pay down that debt.

Now the Conventional Wisdom from most corporations and Wall Street is all this is bad because their whole structure is based upon the world economy that makes them rich while making the rest of us poorer.  That is where the money comes from that flows into Washington.  That is what drives conservatism and moderate Democrats to hang on to that fiscally conservative thing.  But in the new world order, it is a losing game for most of us and that is what our current crop of politicians don’t get or don’t care to get.

If we don’t get a handle of economic inequality and we don’t invest in fighting global warming, our deteriorating infrastructure, and our people, it will soon become the world of corporations and the workers.  But that won’t work either because sooner or later they have to realize that if people are working at slave wages, who has the income to buy their stuff?  And while all that is going on, global warming will impact rain, available water, coastal regions, and start whole new international competition (read wars and conflicts) for the “high ground”.

It is just a no duh moment and right now we have one candidate who denies that whole reality, and another who thinks she can inspire with incremental fights at the margins.  That is what they don’t get. In this case, Chicken Little is right.  The sky is falling.

A Failure of Vision

Headlines from various news stories this morning:

  • Clinton Wants Voters to Recall 1990s Economy (Sacramento Bee)
  • Hillary Clinton Struggles to Find Footing in Unusual Race (New York Times (NYT))
  • Bernie Sanders Derides Pick of Clinton Allies as Convention Committe Leaders (NYT)
  • Rise of Donald Trump Tracks Growing Debate Over Global Fascism (NYT)
  • Dreams Stall as CUNY, New York City’s Engine of Mobility, Sputters (NYT)
  • A Worrisome Pileup of $10 Million Homes (NYT)

What they all reflect is a very troubled 2016.  They show a lack of real leadership or vision from our leaders, political infighting, an anti-intellectual revolt, a failure to invest in our most precious resource, people, and an economy out of control for the super rich which may be reaching its limits.  So we are all nervous.

I guess what it says to me is that you cannot cure today’s problems with yesterday’s thinking and yet that is where we are at.  I think at the bottom of all this is a world economy that few really understand and trying to apply old economic lessons to an economy that is profoundly different from the old one is fruitless.  Hillary, the person who should walk away with the election, cannot excite anyone.  The reason is she is yesterday’s girl with yesterday’s solutions which we all know are not going to make much difference.  Bernie tried to ignite a fire around a voter revolution seeing a more balanced economy, but apparently his tender was wet.  Trump brings us the Know-Nothing solution of someone different who will somehow save us with bluster and blame.

None of it caught fire.  Well, there were minor flashes in segments of our society.  Bernie certainly energized the youth.  Trump energized the Tea Party base blaming others for their incompetence.  Hillary as near as I can tell only excites aging women in America.  Somehow we all know that the world we live in today is different and yesterday’s thinking is not going to fix anything.  And none of them (except maybe Bernie) is giving us a believable vision of our future.

In many ways it is our undoing.  We know we have major problems with aging infrastructure, the cost of education is getting outrageous as government pulls back their support, and economic inequality grows, yet we are paralyzed to do anything.  We still fear the debt so much because of the highly successful scare campaigns of the Republicans that we cannot see fit to invest significantly in our future.  And the funny thing is the only reason they want to control government spending is so they can afford more tax cuts for the wealthy.  

As economic inequality grows, the plight of the 99% suffer and yet we continue economic policies that exacerbate the problem.  Somehow we are paralyzed to implement policies that favor government investment in our future that has all of us sharing fairly in it.  And the truly sad thing is that while we measure our success in growth of GDP, that flow down goes to the very wealthy while the rest lose buying power.  In the end, world economic inequality will destroy commerce and create furtile soil for revolution, violence, and war.  Yet we sit paralyzed with half solutions to yesterday’s problems.

And for most, they don’t get it.  Global Warming is some far off concept.  Economic inequality is felt, but the real structural reforms necessary to deal with it are way beyond their comprehension.  Sadly it is just raise taxes on the wealthy (which none of the Republicans do) which is only a very small part of the problem.  We still somehow operate with this idea that if business could keep more of their money and had less regulations, everything would take off.  But who has the money to buy their takeoff products?  There is a fundamental problem here and no one is providing us with a vision for solving it.  

Right now I could probably sum this up as the Republicans will make it worse faster than the Democrats. So no one is excited about this election anymore.  The fight within the Democratic Party may seem like sore loser, angry old man, tantrum, but it is really about whether the Democratic Party is founded in the 20th century, or the 21st century.  The establishment Democrats are firmly grounded in the 20th century and they want to recreate that.  The Progressive wing wants to see the world, our economy, and politics as they are, not were, and move into the 21 century.  It is a real fight for party relevancy.  But it beats the alternative in the Republican Party who is firmly grounded in the 19th century fighting their way back to the 17th century.

I wonder if it is too early to open up a nice Syrah?

Sort Of

I was driving to the store this morning early to beat the Memorial Day rush and I was listening to Joy Reed on MSNBC (Satellite radio) and I heard these three arguments:

  1. Bernie’s followers are whining the system is rigged but they had full knowledge of the rules when they got in.
  2. The rules in California have not changed and if you wanted to vote as a Democrat (registered independent) then you had to file a request that is now past, too bad.
  3. The Parties should not have to allow independents to vote in their primary elections.  It is their Party and their Party’s nominee.

My answer to them, is well sort of.  Let me take them one at a time.  Yes Bernie’s followers were given the rules of the primary election in each state and Bernie chose to run as a Democratic.  That is true.  So in one sense they certainly cannot say it was unfair in that the rules stayed the same (mostly).  They were hoping for a voter revolt and it did not happen so they must live with that outcome.  It is the game they chose to play.

On the other hand, the system is rigged, so while it does not justify Bernie getting extra delegates or special sympathy, it should not be written off as sore loser grumbling.  It needs to be fixed.  Caucus are rigged, financing is rigged, and the Super Delegate system is the ultimate rigging.  Bernie lost and yes his people are whining, but don’t lose sight that the system sucks and needs to be fixed.

On the rules have not changed in California, which is being sued by Bernie supporters to extend independent registration so they can participate in the primary, again, sort of.  Those were the rules, they were announced, and the Bernie campaign failed to fully educate potential voters.  On the other hand, why not?  Shouldn’t we have as many participate as possible?  And really folks, other than the pundits, who pays attention to the election until you get your sample ballot and go huh?  Waking up with the hangover of Trump may motivate some Republicans to vote Bernie.  Why use an artificial date to deny the real people’s choice?  That gets me to the third argument.

Well, yeah it is their Party and Democrats should be able to choose who carries their flag as the Democratic nominee for President, sort of.  The sort of part is that our party system fails to recognize the reality of where we are today.  First, the Democrats and the Republicans have a lock on who is a serious candidate (read money here).  Third party candidates have failed to get the required 10% in polling to even participate in the national debates.

Second, more and more people see the establishment parties as part of the problem and register as independents.  Third, the parties all want to be big tent parties, but then exclude independents or crossovers in the primary process which could greatly advance their cause in the general election. Fourth, most people don’t want to be labeled (that is why they are independents) and do not make up their minds until late in the process.

I guess when you get down to it, I am an open primary kind of guy where candidates are doled out delegates (Wait! Do we really need delegates?) based upon how they place.  Then each party and each candidate could take the delegates they won back to their convention and then nominate who they want.  If that doesn’t work for you, then have only one day to vote for all candidates and party registration is irrelevant, but you only get to vote in one party’s primary.  But the people would be picking the top two or three candidates, not the party in what is, oh dare I say it, a rigged system.  Well, sort of.

The Hangover

Many Americans are waking up with one hell of a hangover and it is called Donald Trump.  Could we really put a man in the Presidency who is clueless about science or pretty much anything else.  We may put into the presidency a rich clueless buffoon whose money has insulated him from real intelligent life.  He is the neighbor, relative, friend, who we tolerate who bloviates on and on about everything that is wrong with the world, with only a smattering of facts or understanding of the real issues.  We quietly accept his ranting to not make waves and get along, and all of a sudden, a large portion of the country thinks he is making sense.  But the hangover gets worse

The party that spawned him and said he was a joke, who told us he would never be elected, was not a serious candidate, and did represent to the true values of their party, are all following all over themselves to get in line behind him.  Maybe it is because they have been lying to themselves all these years believing their conservative nonsense really helped anyone but the 1%, that they can now lie to themselves about Trump representing their party.

Maybe they are all just craven power toadies and that is all they ever were, selling snake oil to stay in office, and Trump’s new brand of snake oil, is, well, snake oil after all.  Whatever, they are all getting behind him except for a few brave souls who claim he doesn’t represent the real Republican Party.  Sadly what is causing that throbbing headache of a hangover is that he does represent the real Republican Party.

Meanwhile on the other side of the aisle, the realization is dawning on the opposition that their anointed candidate has some problems.  She brings too much baggage to the table that may help others overlook the fact that her opponent is a true fool.  She is being challenged by an elderly jewish man who is a socialist that can best be described as cranky and he is giving her a run for the money.  She is not a good rah-rah speaker and comes off as just yelling. She has a hard time just saying the I was wrong and I am sorry.

Sadly she does know the issues and could govern responsibly but as evidenced by the Trump hangover, we were not into thinking seriously about anything.  We were drunk on anger at the failure of the system and now that the binge is over, we have woken up to the mess we created.  And that brings me to the worst part of the hangover.  How the media sold him to us.

The news media may have the biggest hangover of all.  They woke up thinking he was a nice entertaining joke that pulled in viewership, but no need to really vet his nonsense because, well, he was a joke and all the serious people told us he would not last.  So they covered his nonsense 24/7 without serious fact checking and challenging  him (oh, they all claim they did, but they are really good at lying to themselves too.  See our rush to war in Iraq and they part in that giant hangover).

In many ways they are in denial on how they helped create him as they played into Republican anti-intellectualism by not completely obliterating him with facts.  But then their definition of fair and balanced is that they broadcast opposing points of view no matter how ridiculous as political discourse without mediating fact checking.  Somehow the facts make you partisan.  Now in the morning after they are trying to figure out how to challenge the candidate without loosing access.  He made fools out of them.

So here we are, the morning after, with some strange person in our bed, wondering what diseases we might have exposed ourselves to, wondering what we did last night, and wondering if our friends will ever talk to us again.  Is there redemption?  We will see.

Hate Hillary and Donald, Then Vote Libertarian!

Wait a minute!  Let’s think about this.  Libertarians basically hate government and don’t care about social issues.  In other words they are extreme moderate Democrats.  Here is where social progressives get lulled into the nonsense:  They believe the government should not worry about our bedrooms, bathrooms, or what we smoke.  It’s an individual’s free choice.  Okay, but who prevents discrimination if governments have few powers?  Who levels the playing field and makes the game fair?  Who rights injustices?

Libertarians will tell you we don’t need any of that stuff and it will get done at the local level, right?  Kind of like voting rights and a woman’s right to choose which are losing on the local level.  Oh, and all our kids should be home schooled right?  How does that work for the poor?  Who ensures the curriculum is not some religious fantasy story?  Who fights global warming or bails out those in disaster areas?  Who builds our infrastructure? Who keeps airplanes safe?  Who builds our infrastructure?

But the best part is that they are fiscal conservatives and their candidate just told us that if we can stay within our budget, so should government.  Oh, my brain hurts.  A country’s economy is a macroeconomy, not a micoeconomy.  Deficit spending can be a very good thing.  Show me a business that does not borrow to invest in new facilities, equipment, and training and I will show you a company that you ought to unload their stock.  If you question any of this, I went into detail years ago to explain all this (The Economy), but the Home Budget Analogy for government spending is part of the walking dead.

So if you are getting excited about the Libertarians, think it through.  Who has the power now and wants to keep economic inequality growing while doing nothing about the greatest threat to our home planet, global warming?  That would be the rich and corporations, and how is smaller government going to protect you from their abuses?  It’s a disaster almost as bad as Trump.

Kabuki Dance

A sadly misused word, but there it is.  While Kabuki in Japanese culture is a performance (dance) pack with meaning and significance (“ruthlessly concise, packing meaning into a single gesture”), here in America we think of it as “connoting a lot of huffing and puffing without results”.  It is pretending to do one thing while in fact doing nothing.  We are in the middle of one of the great Kabuki dances of all time (American meaning) in our media and politics today.  And here it is:  Republicans and the punditry are pretending Donald Trump is a serious candidate that will not greatly damage this country.  The music for the dance is, “the people have chosen”.

I listened to a Republican explain how Hillary will be a giant disaster for the economy (blind to their own record) and explaining the Donald might be also and it is so hard to choose.  Now this is a giant Kabuki dance since they don’t want to face that their economic ideas have never worked.  Now let’s just review the nonsense the Donald is spewing that these folks are legitimizing:

In other words he is probably the least qualified person to lead the country and could well destroy us.  All of the above are not opinions but facts based upon what he is saying. See the links.  Yet we have Republicans who are in denial about who and what he is, and while making claims about waiting to see, see if he is going to be more presidential, or doesn’t really mean the stuff he says.  They are doing a giant kabuki dance about their principles when they have none.

Meanwhile pundits and our news media continue to report his nonsense and do not take him to task by pointing out the lies and miss-information.  They claim this is news and they are reporting what people want to know about which is a giant Kabuki dance around hiding that they no longer provide news or fact check candidates, just go for viewership.  To have access you don’t piss off the source by challenging them.

So watch the dance.  It could be our last. So if you have a friend or neighbor who is voting for Trump, it is a vote for lunacy.  Maybe an intervention is warranted. Oh, the press will tell they are just mad as hell.  Well mad in terms of insane may be accurate.

*Here is the idiot on our drought in California:

At a Friday campaign rally in Fresno, California, Donald Trump denied that the state was currently in a drought, blaming water shortages on environmentalists. “We’re going to solve your water problem. You have a water problem that is so insane. It is so ridiculous where they’re taking the water and shoving it out to sea,” he said, adding that “there is no drought.”California is experiencing the effects of a severe, five-year drought that saw the implementation of new water conservation rules. If elected, Trump says he will lift these water-saving rules. “If I win, believe me, we’re going to start opening up the water so that you can have your farmers survive,” he said on Friday.

Tell ignorant conservatives that hate government anything they want to hear regardless of what science tells you.  Hey! What is more important, feeding ignorant people junk so you can get elected or worrying about our future?  You know the answer to that one.

 

Hiroshima

The President was there to memoralize the victims of the atomic bomb that was dropped there.  No apology offered, just a reflection of the mindlessness of war.  Remember Japan invaded all the nearby countries, bombed Oahu, and committed hundreds of thousands of atrocities and war crimes.  And yet Hiroshima and Nagasaki seem almost too much.  Oh, I get the calculus.  Japan was likely to hunker down and we would have had a prolonged house to house battle in Japan costing maybe hundreds of thousands of American lives.  We fire bombed Berlin and Tokyo so it was just a another escalation.  Yet it was aimed at killing a civilization not a military.  Isn’t that what Sherman did in his march to the sea in th Civil War?  Weren’t they war crimes?

I am glad that was Truman’s decision and not mine.  Japan had built a military culture based upon the belief in their superiority as a race.  They had to be stopped.  But the cost?  And it would seem we have learned very little.  Wars happen and they escalate.  People die and it changes nothing.  We do it again.  I can’t help thinking about all the lives that might of been that are not.  Life is a very precious thing.  In a way it is all we have, now, the moment.  And so many, in the flash of a light, were gone, many just kids.

So maybe on this Memorial Day where we remember those who have fallen for this country, would it be heresy to ask if their lives were wasted?  Would it be heresy to asked if all those who died in all our wars did not die defending freedom, but in some vain attempt to surplant reason with force?  In our country’s short history we had the Revolutionary War and they did die for our freedom.  Some minor wars, then the Civil War.  Now there was a war about keeping the nation whole that ended up freeing blacks.  The cost was horrendous.  And did we learn anything.  People are still trying to use government to deny people’s rights.

There was WWII and I see no alternative to fighting that evil called Hitler, and of course Japan.  But how many died through just military incompetence?  Did we have to take every island in the Pacific chain at great cost?  Could we not just have isolated them and starved out the Japanese?  And all the wars after that?  Korea to a status quo that allows a truly evil regime to exist.  Vietnam for nothing.  The Middle East just made things worse.  If we learned something, well then maybe these costly lessons would be the price of becoming more civilized.  But have we learned anything?  We still glorify war.

So on this Memorial Day maybe what we should be memorializing is not the men who died, but the arrogance and stupidity of the human race who still thinks violence solves anything.  Maybe real service to your country, as in Vietnam, was  refusing to serve for your country. Maybe the real heroes are the ones who see us as a community and tries to serve that world community instead of dominate it.  Oh, I know.  Things are never that simple.  Turn the other cheek to ISIS?  But have we solved anything by not turning it?  Memorial Day for me is always sad.  So many lives wasted and we learned nothing.

The Me Society

There was an interesting story in the NYT about our aging mass transit system, specifically the subway in New York, the Metro in Washington, and the T in Boston.  The issue is that we have neglected them and they now need critical maintenance that will cost billions.  Why do we do that?  Why can’t we develop a long term managment and maintenance plan and fund them appropriately.  Is it something in our DNA that says we got it, it cost a lot, now lets run it into the ground.  I think I have an answer.

If you are on Facebook you know about the endless self promotion that goes on there.  Here I am in blah, blah.  Here I am next to blah blah.  Here is the food I ate at the blah blah.  The common thread is the word “I”.  Somewhere in around the the 70’s we became the nation of being about me, arriving full force in the Ronald Regan years when government became the problem and greed became good (Gordon Gecko).  Then we could not see beyond our own self gratification.  Then taxes are the problem and how can I get government to provide stuff for me that I don’t have to pay for.  As Elizabeth Warren pointed out about Donald Trump, he is a “good” businessman, he pays no taxes.  That means you and I pay for all the things like police, fire, roads, transportations system, and the government infrastructure that allows him to make millions and then dump the bill on us.

Now, the bill is coming due.  And it is not just the subways, it is infrastructure in general.  It boggles the mind that for the last 8 years we have had interest rates at near zero and yet we have not seen fit to borrow to invest in our future.  Think of the good jobs we could produce and what we could build for our children.  But do we do it?  Nope.  Nobody wants to pay taxes.  But here is a selfie of me on my new …. If you want to really see the problem, find a full length mirror.  It is right there in our reflections.